A Minneapolis City Council committee is recommending that the city of Minneapolis release $5 million in overtime funds for the Minneapolis Police Department in order to offset cuts made to law enforcement last year, as the city sinks deeper into a violent crime wave.
“Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told council members the money would help cover a small percentage of the overtime shifts needed amid an officer shortage and costs associated with the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd,” the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Friday.
Minneapolis city government cut the Minneapolis Police Department budget by several million last year but, according to local media, put aside a “rainy day” fund of $5 million in case of unanticipated costs associated with policing the city of Minneapolis.
The city is now facing twin crises: officers are leaving the department in droves, making staff issues “worse than anticipated” per MPR News, and violent crime is spiking in the city. Minneapolis saw a 20% increase in violent crime in 2020 and in 2021, rape is 22%, robbery is up 59%, and gun crime is up 250%, per the city’s CBS affiliate, with nearly 150 fewer officers on the streets.
“The Police Department began 2020 with roughly 850 officers available to work and a $193 million budget. Following a flurry of officer retirements, resignations, and PTSD claims, the city estimates it will have about 627 officers available to work at the end of this month,” according to the Star-Tribune.
“Last year, after the city made across-the-board cuts to account for the pandemic’s damage to the economy, Mayor Jacob Frey pitched a roughly $179 million budget for the Police Department,” the outlet continued, outlining the MPD’s current budget. “The City Council moved an additional $8 million to other programs — with a caveat. It also created a new reserve fund that would include $5 million for police overtime, if the council approved its release in the future.”
Now, the Minneapolis Police Department says it needs that money — and probably more. “Robin McPherson, the department’s finance director, told council members it had spent $5.2 million on police overtime this year, including $2.9 million that covered wages for Operation Safety Net, the multiagency group that coordinated security for Chauvin’s trial. McPherson estimated the department will spend $4.3 million more to cover overtime for the rest of the year.”
Minneapolis, where George Floyd died while in the custody of Minneapolis police, setting off a national anti-police brutality and anti-racism movement, pledged, at one point last summer, to completely abolish its own police department — a plan that has since “softened,” National Public Radio said earlier this year.
“Thirteen days after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, nine city council members stood on a stage at Powderhorn Park. At their feet were giant block letters that spelled out the words ‘defund police,'” NPR said.
The city’s charter committee put a halt to that plan, demanding that the city come up with some replacement for the law enforcement required by the Minneapolis city charter. A new plan, authored in January, suggested a skeleton police department, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside as well. Minneapolis’ Mayor Jacob Frey is now pushing “reform,” though that plan is also without specifics.
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