Minneapolis, MN – Just two weeks after the Minneapolis city council voted to spend almost $500,000 to hire officers from nearby law enforcement agencies to combat staffing shortages, three council members have proposed cutting an additional $7.9 million from the police budget.
The plan would cut $5 million in police overtime and reduce the size of the already barebones police department from 888 officers to 750, KARE reported.
But that proposal makes no sense given that the city council and the mayor just approved a proposal to take $497,000 from the city’s contingency fund and use it to pay for additional police coverage for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The decision came amidst a spike in violent crime that followed the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, and the weeks of riots that followed.
Minneapolis police officials have been shuffling people around to fill gaping holes left since roughly 20 percent of the officers filed for “duty disability” in the wake of violent riots after George Floyd died in police custody.
Almost 200 officers have sought “duty disability” to leave the Minneapolis Police Department and cited the reason as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the riots.
In October, a group of Minneapolis residents filed a lawsuit against the city for failing to have enough police officers on the streets to keep their neighborhoods safe.
The Minneapolis police chief has blamed the staffing shortfall on record numbers of veteran officer retirements over the past few months.
So the same Policy & Government Oversight Committee that tried to change the city council charter to eliminate the police department altogether a few months ago approved a plan on Nov. 13 to bring in more cops to make the city safe again, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
And since they didn’t have enough officers anymore to cover patrol shifts and respond to 911 calls about violent crime, their solution was to borrow from other departments.
“We’re barely able to cover the shifts that we have,” Minneapolis City Councilmember Linea Palmisano told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We really can’t allocate additional police officers for on-duty shifts.”
The plan was to borrow Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies and Minneapolis Metro Transit Police Department officers to help respond to violent 911 calls.
“We’re not gonna be having these people out taking bicycle theft reports. These are going to be people out combating crime issues,” Minneapolis Police Department Spokesman John Elder explained.
The proposal called for the formation of Joint Enforcement Teams (JET) to help fill the gaps where Minneapolis police have a staffing shortage, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The city paid the other agencies for their officers an estimated $497,000 out of the city’s contingency fund to get the additional police coverage for the remainder of the fiscal year.
But despite the obviously drastic staffing shortages already happening, three councilmembers on Friday proposed slicing almost $8 million from the Minneapolis Police Department budget just a week ahead of the vote on the 2021 budget, KARE reported.
Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender and Councilmembers Steve Fletcher and Phillipe Cunningham on Nov. 27 announced a proposed amendment to the 2021 budget called the “Safety for All” plan.
The proposed amendment would take $7.9 out of the police budget to establish a new 911 Mental Health Crisis Response for non-threatening calls, increase the city’s non-emergency “311” capacity for theft and property damage crimes, transfer Minneapolis police employees to the Office of Violence Prevention or Neighborhood and Community Relations, and pad the budget of the Office of Police Conduct Review, KARE reported.
“One of the things we’ve heard really overwhelmingly from constituents of this city is they would like to be able to see a non-law enforcement response to mental health crisis calls,” Cunningham said.
Three Minneapolis City Council members released a "Safety for All" plan, which will propose $7.9 million in further cuts to police and reinvest in other areas. They want to ultimately reduce *authorized* sworn officers by about 15 percent (888 to 750) in future years. @kare11 pic.twitter.com/oNB3TMOQZE
— Danny Spewak (@DannySpewak) November 28, 2020
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is not on board with the proposed “Safety for All” plan, KARE reported.
“Mayor Frey has laid the groundwork in his budget proposal for new, alternative responses to low level offenses like theft reports and parking problems,” Frey’s spokesman, Mychal Vlatkovich, said. “However, the mayor would have significant concerns if his council colleagues attempted to make such large, permanent cuts to the number of officers in the department without sound data or community input to support such a decision.”