(The Center Square) – The Minneapolis Police Department has lost nearly 300 officers since 2020, and the city is trying to fund a budget that replaces those officers and protects residents from an increase in violent crime.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s 2022 recommended budget would increase the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) budget by $27 million, or 17%, if approved by the City Council.
That increased spending would cover personnel cost increases, a $1.9 million spending increase for disability, and a $6.7 million increase for worker’s compensation.
In a budget presentation, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo cited increased violent crime as a reason to boost MPD funding. Between Jan. 1, 2021, and Oct. 11, 2021, there have been 530 gunshot wound victims, a 137% increase from 2019’s 223 victims. The city counted 75 homicides in 2021 in that time, up 114% from 2019’s 35 homicides. Also, the 1,569 robberies counted so far in that period was a 50% increase from 2019’s 1,041.
“From a public safety standpoint and certainly as chief, I will tell you what is not acceptable is to have any more reductions right now in our sworn capacity to be responding to the incidents of gun violence, the incidence of carjackings and homicides that have occurred in our city,” Arradondo said.
He said Black residents in Minneapolis are being disproportionately victimized by the rise in violent crime, adding that 87% of victims of violent crime are people of color.
Officials said officers have worked more than twice as many overtime hours so far in 2021 than they did the previous year. Arradondo said the department is down 131 patrol officers— enough people to staff an entire precinct and the lowest level he’s seen in more than 30 years, he said of the 304 sworn patrol answering emergency calls for a city of 430,000.
“We are right now operating very much one-dimensionally, ensuring that we have enough officers to respond to violent crimes as well as property crimes that may be in progress,” Arradondo said.
After the death of George Floyd in 2020, many officers left and the City Council diverted $8 million from its funding. If the City Council approves Frey’s budget as is, then MPD funding would be restored to similar levels as before Floyd's death.
MPD finance director Robin McPherson said the department budgeted for 140 new hires to fill vacancies and for hiring 28 community service officers (CSO) via federal funding in 2021. Under the proposed budget plan, the department would fund 160 new police cadets.
The presentation follows uncertainty as the MPD might cease to exist. In Nov, Minneapolis voters will decide a ballot proposal whether they want to replace the police department with a new public safety department focused on a “comprehensive public safety approach” that would include police officers "if necessary to fulfill the department’s responsibilities."