A group of Minneapolis, Minnesota, residents are suing the city claiming that the City Council’s focus on “reimagining” the city’s police department has left the police department understaffed and residents fearing for their lives.
Minneapolis’ Fox affiliate reports that a “group of residents have had enough of the crime and violence in the city of Minneapolis, arguing in a lawsuit that there aren’t enough police patrolling the streets right now.”
“The lawsuit claims the city is falling short on MPD staffing levels required in its own city charter,” the outlet continued.
The activist residents suing the city say they want police reform and are generally supportive of changes to law enforcement, but if the city wants to make those changes by under-staffing the police department, councilmembers must understand that there are risks.
“We are here because of people’s safety,” Cathy Spann, one of the plaintiffs, said in a press conference. “We want law and order. We want reform. But we are in this city to say, enough is enough.”
“This is like all they are focused on is having a reimagined police department while we’re focused on staying alive,” another plaintiff added.
The plaintiffs say they’ve repeatedly approached the City Council, asking them to address rising violence in the city — specifically, the city’s skyrocketing homicide rate — but they’ve received no help.
“We have made the emotional appeal,” one plaintiff, a former councilmember, 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.”
Ultimately, the concern is that the city council has allowed the Minneapolis Police Department to fall beneath employment thresholds and are taking no action to help entice officers to stay or recruit new officers.
“The group of petitioners questioned city leaders about the number of police officers currently deployed across the city,” Fox Minneapolis noted. “They contend the MPD has fallen below the minimum thresholds required in the city’s charter because of the number of officers who have either gone out on some type of leave or quit since [George Floyd’s] deadly Memorial Day arrest.”
Indeed, as CNN notes, Minneapolis has had a difficult time retaining officers in light of both the protests-turned-riots that followed George Floyd’s death, and the City Council’s decision to pursue a radical, “defund the police” agenda that stagnated only when the city’s Charter Commission blocked a defunding element from the November ballot.
“In Minneapolis, at least seven police officers resigned from the department since protests sparked by Floyd’s death in late May flooded the city’s streets. More than half a dozen officers are also in the process of leaving,” and that was in June. In July, The New York Times reported that nearly 200 officers — around 20% of the 850 officers employed by the Minneapolis Police Department — had filed paperwork to end their relationship with the city, either through resignation, transfer, or retirement.
The city has said little about replacing those officers, the plaintiffs in Tuesday’s case contend.
Their attorney says the lawsuit is merely to force the city to acknowledge the problem.
“We simply want to have enough police on the streets to keep Minneapolis safe,” he said.