Saint Paul Community-First
Public Safety Commission

Citizens League submits recommendations from the Community-First Public Safety Commission to Mayor Carter and City Council

Diverse 48-member group convened for five months tasked with re-envisioning emergency response in Saint Paul

May 21, 2021

The Citizens League has submitted final recommendations from the 48-member Community-First Public Safety Commission to the Saint Paul City Council and Mayor Carter.

Final Report: Saint Paul Community-First Public Safety Commission

The commission’s charge was to re-envision emergency response by making recommendations to the Mayor and City Council regarding:

  1. Alternative first response options to priority 4 and priority 5 calls for service
  2. Approaches for ongoing community involvement in the City’s community-first public safety framework
  3. Consideration of the creation of a city staffed office to drive and integrate community-first public safety initiatives and strategies, i.e. office of violence prevention.

The commission was a diverse group of 48 individuals, named by Mayor Carter, representing a wide array of perspectives including community organizations, education, business, law enforcement, faith communities, and cultural and affinity groups. Designated representatives from the City of Saint Paul and Ramsey County joined meetings to serve as resources during the process.
From this large and very diverse group of commission members, high-level recommendations emerged with extremely strong support, which are detailed in the final report, published on Friday, May 21, 2021.
At a high-level, the commission prioritized five main focus areas of impact:

  • More appropriate responders for each situation who can best assist those in need
  • More efficient deployment of law enforcement
  • Decriminalize behavior & response, particularly for people and communities of color
  • Focus on prevention and community safety
  • Improve systems & increase accessibility

The recommendations include creating a city-staffed office focused on violence prevention, and implementing alternative responses to low-level calls, including calls about young people, welfare checks, disorderly conduct, vehicle and parking complaints, and non-criminal civil problems. Specific recommendations, along with levels of commission member support, are detailed in the full report.
The commission, co-chaired by Acooa Ellis of Greater Twin Cities United Way and John Marshall of Xcel Energy, held virtual bi-weekly meetings from December 2020 to April 2021. Citizens League Executive Director Kate Cimino and Director of Public Policy Amanda Koonjbeharry served as staff project leads.
“I am grateful for the work of the Commission, co-chairs Acooa Ellis and John Marshall, and the Citizens League for ushering this critical body of work forward,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “I look forward to working with our community and the City Council to leverage these recommendations as we continue working to build the most comprehensive, coordinated and data-driven public safety system our city has ever endeavored.”
“The Citizens League has a 70-year reputation of bringing people together to solve big challenges,” said Cimino. “With public safety at the front of mind in Minnesota, we were honored to contribute to this effort, bringing the League’s unique ability to convene an incredibly diverse group and work toward outcomes with such high levels of support.”
The process involved a discovery phase, which included learning about current emergency response in Saint Paul, hearing stories and examples from residents of Saint Paul, and learning about alternative models in use around the country; a development phase of exploring and generating ideas; and finally a recommendation phase of developing and honing final recommendations. The process included presentations, question and answer sessions, small group and large group discussions, multiple surveys, and several workshops using interactive virtual tools.
Two additional organizations were brought on by the Mayor’s office to provide collaborative support as part of the commission’s efforts: the Government Performance Lab (GPL) at Harvard Kennedy School, and the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, an organization based at the University of Minnesota. The GPL supports state and local governments across the country in designing and implementing solutions to pressing social problems. The GPL has conducted over 100 projects in 30 states, helping innovative leaders improve the results they achieve for their residents. The Robina Institute is a mission-driven organization dedicated to engaging in original interdisciplinary education, research, and policy analysis to achieve transformative change in sentencing and correctional policies and practices.
“Commission members showed tremendous dedication to this effort during a period of time that members themselves described as stressful, intense, and exhausting,” said Koonjbeharry. “Amidst a global pandemic, numerous violent and police-related incidents, an attack on the U.S. Capitol, the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, and the killing of Daunte Wright, a black man, by a police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, all members were affected in some way. Yet commissioners continued to show up despite this exhaustion; a testament to their commitment to this work.”
“Representing a myriad of ages, races, occupations, backgrounds and lived experiences, this group faced an aggressive timeline and significant workload in a virtual distanced environment remaining dedicated and present throughout,” said Co-chair Marshall. “Having participated in this work, both professionally representing one of the City’s largest employers, Xcel Energy, and personally, as a lifelong 4th generation Saint Paulite, I am proud of the outcomes, and find myself inspired with the entire journey.”
A presentation on the process and commission recommendations to the Saint Paul City Council took place on Wednesday, May 19, which can be viewed below. Visitors to the page can also find a list of commission members, meeting minutes, and other information, below.
“My hope and expectation as a St. Paul homeowner, resident, and mother, is that this is the starting point to have a more nuanced, robust, thoughtful conversation about public safety,” said Co-Chair Ellis. “The Twin Cities is at the epicenter for meaningful change on this topic. We have a tremendous opportunity and we are well-suited to set a course forward to what is possible.”
About the Citizens League and Our Process
The Citizens League is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that empowers people to engage in civic life and public policy, to make Minnesota a better place to live and work for everyone. Through our work, Minnesotans of all backgrounds, parties, and ideologies are engaged, inspired and empowered to take an active role in public policymaking, fueling Minnesota’s ability to implement innovative and effective policy solutions.
The Citizens League is unique in how we approach policymaking. Our process involves bringing people with diverse backgrounds together; seeking insights from research, data, and lived experiences of individuals and communities; acknowledging that there is a historical context to all policies, systems and structures, which invite new approaches to move forward; and advancing policy solutions in collaboration with a broad base of support.
The Citizens League followed these tenets as we progressed through this project, and we believe this process is foundational to building a safer and stronger community.

Presentation to the City Council

The Citizens League presented on the process and recommendations publicly to the City Council on Wednesday, May 19, at 10am, which can be viewed below. Click here to view the slide deck presented.

Commission Members

Members’ affiliations are shown as indicated in the City’s December 2020 press release.

  • Acooa Ellis, Commission Co-Chair , Twin Cities United Way
  • John Marshall, Commission Co-Chair, Xcel Energy
  • Commissioner Toni Carter, Ramsey County Board Board of Commissioners District 4
  • Judge Nicole J. Starr, Ramsey County 2nd Judicial District Court
  • Councilmember Mitra Jalali, Saint Paul City Council, Ward 4
  • Director Chauntyll Allen, Saint Paul Public School Board of Education
  • Sue Abderholden, NAMI Minnesota
  • Ahmed Anshur, Masjid Al-Ihsan Islamic Center/ISAIAH
  • Cedrick Baker, Saint Paul Public Schools
  • Sami Banat, Student
  • Jason Barnett, Resident At-Large
  • Rev. Dr. Ron Bell, Camphor Memorial U.M.C./ St. Paul Black Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance
  • Monica Bravo, West Side Community Organization
  • Scott Burns, Structural
  • Chikamso Chijioke, Saint Paul Youth Commission
  • Samuel Clark, Resident At-Large
  • JoAnn Clark, Resident At-Large
  • Sasha Cotton, African American Leadership Council
  • Sierra Cumberland, Saint Paul Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission
  • Natalia Davis, Resident At-Large / Irreducible Grace
  • Julio Fesser, Securian Financial
  • Ameen Ford, Resident At-Large
  • Anna-Marie Foster, Saint Paul Youth Commission
  • Simone Hardeman-Jones, GreenLight Fund Twin Cities
  • Suwayda Hussein, Saint Paul Youth Commission
  • Laura Jones, Root and Restore Saint Paul
  • David Squier Jones, Center for Homicide Research
  • Clara Junemann, Saint Paul Youth Commission
  • Farhio Khalif, Saint Paul NAACP
  • Suwana Kirkland, National Black Police Association
  • Alicia Lucio, Resident At-Large / Community Ambassadors
  • Wintana Melekin, Resident At-Large*
  • Stephen Moore, Culture Booster
  • Amin Omar, Horn of Africa
  • Francisco “Frank” Ortiz, National Latino Police Officers Association
  • Maureen Perryman, Resident At-Large
  • Amy Peterson, HealthPartners
  • President Suzanne Rivera, Macalester College
  • Mark Ross, Saint Paul Police Federation
  • Garaad Sahal, Somali Peace Officers Association
  • Mario Stokes, AFSCME
  • Olyvia Rayne Taylor, Student*
  • LyLy Vang-Yang, TakeAction MN
  • Teshite Wako, Oromo Community Center
  • Jai Winston, Knight Foundation
  • Heather Worthington, Resident At-Large
  • Pheng Xiong, Asian Peace Officers Association
  • Otis Zanders, Ujamaa Place

* Olyvia Rayne Taylor did not participate in the commission. Wintana Melekin resigned from the commission in April 2021.

In addition to Commission members, city department and governmental partners will participate in the process to provide additional support for this work, including representatives from:

  • City of Saint Paul
    • Saint Paul Police Department
    • Saint Paul Fire Department
    • Saint Paul Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity
    • Saint Paul Parks and Recreation
    • Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office
    • Saint Paul Libraries
    • Saint Paul Mayor’s Office
    • Saint Paul Human Resources
    • Saint Paul Office of Technology & Communications
    • Saint Paul Financial Services
  • Ramsey County
    • Ramsey County Transforming Systems
    • Ramsey County Social Services
    • Ramsey County Public Health
    • Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
    • Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
    • Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center
Meeting Schedule

All meetings are scheduled from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM and will be held virtually. The meetings will be livestreamed on this project page, above.

  • Meeting #1: Wednesday, December 16, 2020
  • Meeting #2: Wednesday, January 6, 2021
  • Meeting #3: Wednesday, January 13, 2021
  • Meeting #4: Wednesday, January 27, 2021
  • Meeting #5: Wednesday, February 10, 2021
  • Meeting #6: Wednesday, February 24, 2021
  • Meeting #7: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
  • Meeting #8: Wednesday, March 24, 2021
  • Meeting #9: Wednesday, April 7, 2021
  • Meeting #10: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Meeting Materials

Meeting agendas, minutes, and other relevant materials will be posted here when they become available.

Meeting #2 - January 6, 2021
Meeting #3 - January 13, 2021
Meeting #5 - February 10, 2021
Meeting #9 - April 7, 2021
Meeting #10 - April 21, 2021

Additional Community Input

Thank you for your interest in the Saint Paul Community-First Public Safety Commission. If you’d like to submit any input regarding this project, please contact us using one of these methods:

News & Media

The following list of articles and online posts is not endorsed nor approved by the Commission. They are posted here to provide context surrounding the Commission’s work.

Commission suggests a re-thinking of traditional police roles in St. PaulPioneer Press, 5/19/2021

St. Paul commission suggests new violence prevention office, end to pretext stopsStarTribune, 5/19/2021

Open Data As An Open Letter (A Time and Place for Hopeful Maps)JKevinByrne, Medium, 1/11/2021

48-member commission to study alternatives to police response for low-level disturbancesPioneer Press, 12/10/2020

48-member commission to study alternatives to St. Paul police response Star Tribune, 12/10/2020

St. Paul Mayor Carter Announces 48-Member Commission To Recommend Alternatives To Police ResponseWCCO News, 12/10/2020

Acooa Ellis and John Marshall to co-chair Saint Paul’s Community-First Public Safety CommissionInsight News, 11/23/2020

St. Paul Mayor Carter says he’ll name 40-member commission to ‘re-envision emergency response’Pioneer Press, 11/17/2020

St. Paul Mayor Carter launches commission to rethink public safetyStar Tribune, 11/17/2020

St. Paul announces Community-First Public Safety Commission to envision changes to police response Fox 9 News, 11/17/2020

St. Paul now looking into alternatives to armed police on certain 911 callsBring Me The News, 11/17/2020

St. Paul launches new way to fight crime in the city830 WCCO, 11/17/2020