(The Center Square) – The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the city of Minneapolis must hire more police.
Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said Mayor Jacob Frey has a “clear legal duty” to staff the department with at least 731 sworn officers, in adherence to the city's charter.
This ruling remands the case to the Hennepin County District Court and orders Frey to either certify that the Minneapolis Police Department meets the staffing minimum set in the charter or explain why the city can’t.
The lawsuit argued that the number of licensed police officers has dropped from 825 at the start of 2020 to about 634 after a MPD officer killed George Floyd while in custody, and rioters caused $500 million of damage near May 2020.
City attorneys had argued that the charter only requires funding, but not employing those officers.
However, Gildea wrote that the funding provision “was clearly meant to address a crime wave” in the 1960s by onboarding 180 additional police officers.
“And this historical understanding of the provision as an employment requirement – not just a funding requirement – was clearly expressed in the charter before the 2013 revision that went into effect in 2015,” Gildea wrote.
Nearly two years ago, eight Minneapolis plaintiffs also sought additional police during a crime wave. They sued the City Council and Frey, accusing them of violating the City Charter that requires funding a minimum Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) force of 0.0017 employees per resident, or roughly 730 officers.
The city must comply with this ruling by June 30, 2022.
“This is a huge victory for our clients and the residents of Minneapolis,” Upper Midwest Law Center Senior Trial Counsel James Dickey said in a statement. “This decision requires Mayor Frey to show that he has complied with the Charter police minimum or show why he cannot. MPD is under the required amount by at least a hundred officers, and we look forward to seeing the evidence of what the Mayor and City Council have done to change that.”
The ruling acquitted the City Council since it provided total police funding in 2022.