Minneapolis, MN – A Hennepin County judge on Thursday ordered the Minneapolis City Council and the mayor to start hiring more police officers immediately.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Jamie L. Anderson ordered the city council and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to “immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force,” KMSP reported.
Anderson’s ruling said that councilmembers and the mayor had “failed to perform an official duty clearly imposed by law” by allowing the number of officers on the Minneapolis Police Department to drop below the number required by the city charter.
According to the ruling, Minneapolis must employ 730 sworn officers by June 30, 2022, KMSP reported.
The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) had projected they would have just 690 police officers on the payroll as of June 1, with 46 of them out on long-term leave, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
MPD has projected that the current rate, the department will have only 649 police officers left on the force by January of 2022.
The judge used 2019 census numbers to calculate how many officers were required by the city charter, and came up with 730, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The city had claimed it only needed to employ 650 officers, but it used the 2010 census when it made the calculation in 2020.
“If the City is not proactive in anticipating what will be required of it in coming years, it will constantly be behind — constantly underperforming and, as a result, understaffing the police force,” Anderson wrote.
Eight north Minneapolis residents filed the lawsuit against the city in October of 2020 for failing to have enough police officers on the streets to keep their neighborhoods safe.
The plaintiffs alleged that the city had allowed the number of officers on to the force to fall below the minimum staffing level required by the city charter, MPR reported.
The citizens said there had been a sharp rise in violence in their neighborhoods – a spike they blame on the Minneapolis City Council’s push to defund the police department, WCCO reported.
There has been a mass exodus of officers from the police department since the George Floyd riots that began in May of 2020, KMSP reported.
As officers continue to flee the department, the city many not be able to find enough new recruits to fill the gap.
There has been a nationwide shortage in police applicants since George Floyd’s death, leaving many agencies unable to fill positions.
Minneapolis PD will have to deal with the particular challenge of trying to recruit to an agency that’s understaffed, has faced some of the nation’s worst rioting, has city leaders who called for abolishing police, and was involved in the deaths of Justine Damond and George Floyd.
Former Minneapolis City Councilmember Don Samuels and his wife, Sondra, were among those who filed the lawsuit against the city.
Don Samuels said the lawsuit was about demanding enough active-duty police officers to actually patrol the city, KMSP reported.
“We have made the emotional appeal,” Don Samuels said. “We have demonstrated the statistical uptick and now this is the legal action we are exercising because it seems as if the city council cannot hear us and doesn’t feel what we feel.”