Minneapolis, MN – After working to defund and abolish the Minneapolis Police Department for six months following the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis City Council on Friday voted to spent $6.4 million to recruit and train more officers.
Members of the city council voted to abolish the police force in June of 2020, just weeks after Floyd died and amidst riots that left the city in ruins.
But the council couldn’t even defund, much less abolish, the Minneapolis police because the number of officers that must be funded was dictated by the city charter.
The city charter commissioner delayed approval of the proposed change and effectively prevented the measure from being put on the November 2020 ballot for consideration by the voters.
But while politicians were making all that effort to defund the police and further cut the department’s budget by another $7.9 million, crime in Minneapolis was skyrocketing.
Carjackings alone in Minneapolis were up 537 percent in 2020 when compared with November of 2019.
The police department has shuffled people around to fill gaping holes left since roughly 20 percent of the officers have filed for “duty disability” in the wake of violent riots after Floyd died.
Almost 200 officers have sought “duty disability” to leave the Minneapolis Police Department and cited the reason as PTSD from the riots.
Minneapolis residents filed suit against the city for failing to have enough police officers to protect the citizens.
So the city started borrowing police officers from other nearby departments at a cost of $497,000 to the taxpayers at the same time they continued to defund their own police force.
More than 200 angry residents signed up to speak at a December meeting of the Minneapolis City Council.
The police department went to the city council at the start of 2021 and told them they needed more money for training and recruiting police officers because they were down 200 officers from a year earlier, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
An unprecedented number of officers retired, quit, or went on extended medical leave during the prior year.
Police officials told the city council that they’d had 817 officers on the department’s payroll at the start of 2020 and at the start of 2021, they only had 638.
That number of available officers will increase to 674 when the latest academy class graduates but there remains a huge gap as far as how many are needed to police the city, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Ahead of the vote, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that they had changed the police department’s hiring process and said they’d added questions to the application that asked whether potential recruits had ever lived in Minneapolis, whether they had degrees in criminology, social work, psychology or counseling, and whether they had volunteered or participated in police activity organizations.
Those changes go into effect in February when the department posts its notice about new police officer job openings, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Amelia Huffman said the changes to the application process would “help us to really feel confident that we are recruiting the kinds of candidates we want right from the beginning.”
The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously on Feb. 12 to release $6.4 million from the new Public Safety Staffing Reserve Fund to cover the cost of bringing on enough new officers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
One group of councilmembers are simultaneously working to replace the police department with a general public safety department.