Minneappolis will refund the police due to a lack of numbers in the police department and an increase in crime and response time.
Last Friday, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to allot $6.4 million to their police department’s budget. The vote took place after the Minneapolis police requested the funding citing the fact that they had 200 fewer police officers than in previous years, as reported by the Star Tribune.
Minneapolis police reportedly began the year with 817 officers on their payroll, but now they only have 638 officers available to work. This decrease in numbers is due to multiple officers resigning and retiring, while another 155 officers are on some form of extended leave.
This leave began because of the nationwide protests that happened due to the killing of George Floyd, which took place in summer 2020. A large portion of officers have taken extended medical leaves, claiming cases of PTSD due to working during the violent protests in summer of last year. Other police officers have left because they believe the city and department has not supported them well.
Months after the massive protests in Minneapolis, the city began to struggle with a sharp increase in crime and police response time.
“Minneapolis is grappling with dueling crises: an unprecedented wave of violence and droves of officer departures that the Minneapolis Police Department warns could soon leave the force unable to respond to emergencies,” as reported by The Seattle Times.
Some residents of Minneapolis blame the City Council for the increase in crime because they cut the police department’s budget shortly after the death of George Floyd. Other residents have been urging the city to hire new officers because of longer response times to 911 calls and the increase in violent crimes. The citizens of Minneapolis have formed their own safety patrols to make up for the lack of police, while a group of northern Minneapolis residents sued the city.
The Police Department aims to use the new funds to bring more recruits into the force, wanting about 674 officers by the end of the year with an additional 28 officers working through the hiring process.
Additionally, after being asked by the council about improved training, background checks and police officer discipline, Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that they would be making changes to the hiring process.
“Deputy Police Chief Amelia Huffman said they hope the change ‘will help us to really feel confident that we are recruiting the kinds of candidates we want right from the beginning.’”
The Minneapolis police plan to include additional questions on the application for recruits. These questions would ask if the applicants have ever lived in Minneapolis, earned degrees in criminology, social work, psychology or counseling or have participated or volunteered in programs like the Police Activities League.
The changes will take place this week as the city posts openings for a new class of officers, who will begin work later this summer.
However, some Minneapolis residents and council members persist on dismantling the police department altogether and replacing it with a public safety department. These residents insist that the police department has not been effective in reducing crime and should not receive funding.
The Star Tribune had also reported that three city council members: Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder have created a proposal which would replace the police department with a new public safety department, which would include police and other services.
“The council members have argued that their plan would actually increase accountability and say it would place the Police Department under the same oversight as other city departments.”
Meanwhile, local communities in Minneapolis have joined together to form a petition campaign known as “Yes 4 Minneapolis” which aims for a similar goal; the replacement of the police department with a new public safety establishment.
Despite the new funding, the fate of the Minneapolis Police Department remains uncertain.