(NewsNation Now) — After a referendum to replace Minneapolis’ police department failed, activists across the spectrum decried the referendum’s language as vague.
It was ill-informed,” New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Jerry McAfee said on Wednesday’s “The Donlon Report,” adding that, “There was no plan in sight.” He also said part of the problem with the referendum was a lack of representation from a broad section of the community.
Ret. Anne Arundel County, Maryland Police Commander TJ Smith agreed the measure may have passed under different circumstances.
“The people that need the protection from law enforcement aren’t being consulted with — ‘What do you want law enforcement to look like?’ — and it isn’t fair to them,” he said on “The Donlon Report.”
Minneapolis’ referendum would not necessarily have “defunded” the police, but the ballot initiative may have been linked in voters’ minds with the movement that spun up after Floyd’s death.
It’s partly to blame for hundreds of officers leaving their posts across the country. Spokane, Washington police are advertising open positions in Times Square in New York City.
“It really is, quite frankly, just dogging the profession and putting a blanket over the entire profession,” Smith said. “I don’t know if that really is what the feel is, across the communities.”
Smith called civilian oversight boards a “step in the right direction,” but said officers won’t want to work in communities that are hostile to police departments.
“We need deep and structural change to policing in America. And, at the same time, we need police officers to make sure that they are working directly with (the) community to keep us safe,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told supporters Tuesday night.
The calls for change are real and urgent, University of Miami criminologist Alex Piquero said. With the failure of police reform in Congress, he said, change will likely happen on the local level, city by city.
“These things don’t happen overnight, as much as everybody wants to happen a year ago. It takes time. You’ve got to recruit, you’ve got to train, you’ve got to change the mentality … before you’re going to start to see the change at the street level,” Piquero said.
McAfee agrees with that approach.
“We will continue to help patrol our own community in concert with the police and we continue to try to recruit good police officers,” McAfee said on “The Donlon Report.”
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The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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