This week, the Minneapolis City Council began reviewing Mayor Jacob Frey’s $3.3 billion budget. It was unveiled last month and emphasized the need to strengthen police departments and improve public safety.
This biennial budget proposal is Frey’s first since Minneapolis voters rejected a November ballot measure that would have the police department replaced with a new department for public safety . It will cost nearly $400 million over its two-year lifespan — 2023-24 — to fund the police department.
The council will begin its review in the fall, followed by hearings in December. After adopting the budget in December. The public will be able to weigh in on the plan.
Commissioner Cedric Alex will lead the new Office of Community Safety, which consolidates the city’s emergency services, police, 911, and fire departments. It also includes a new neighborhood safety unit that includes the Office of Violence Prevention. The budget proposal includes approximately $2.4 million for Alexander’s salaries and other staff positions. There are also other expenses.
According to the city data, Minneapolis had 604 sworn officials as of August. This number drops to 571 if you subtract 33 officers who are on continuous leave for 78 hours or more (roughly two week).
This is a significant drop from the week prior to George Floyd’s assassination by Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis officer. The city had 882 officers at the time, according city data. This issue isn’t unique to Minneapolis. Other large cities have also seen declining ranks due to resignations, retirements, and disability leaves after Floyd’s unrest.
In June, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the city must have at least 731 officers. This decision was made after Don Samuels, a former member of the Minneapolis City Council, sued the city.
The budget provides enough funding to cover an average of 731 officers per year in 2023 and 835 officers per year in 2024. Frey’s ays and as well as funding for four additional classes each year.
Although Minneapolis officials believe that attrition will slow down, it will still be difficult to recruit back to full staffing levels after more than 400 sworn officer will have left the department by 2022 according to an estimate from department.
To compensate for the lower number of officers this year and lower than expected hiring, the mayor suggested that $2 million be added to overtime funding in 2023 to bring the total to $8.6million. $1.5 million was to pay for contracts with law enforcement agencies.
The program also provides $740,000 for one-time funding in 2023 to pilot a new internship program for high school juniors and seniors. This is a move to encourage more law enforcement careers. Frey stated that the program could be used to “recruit new applicants .”
Frey stated in his budget speech last month that $7 million was spent by the city in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars (ARPA). Another $1 million was used to upgrade lighting and cameras in the department.
Other public safety initiatives
Through next year, the ARPA funds have been used to fund the Office of Violence Prevention. It has been running on $3.3million. Programs like the MinneapolUS Strategic Outreach Initiative that treats violence as a public problem have been funded by the money. It places “violence interrupters” in areas where there is more crime to de-escalate potential violent situations.
The new budget provides $2.4 million in continuing funding to the department for its many programs, including gang violence intervention and hospital-based programs to connect victims with resources.
A one-time $1million increase in funding would be made to the city’s Violence Prevention Fund. This fund funds community violence prevention projects such as events, neighborhood beautification, and public art projects.
The Behavioral Crisis Team is an unarmed mental health emergency response team. It was established as a pilot program with Canopy Mental Health & Consulting. They received 1,600 calls in just four months and had only two vans. They will receive a $1.45 million boost in 2023, and $2.9million in ongoing funding in 2024 to allow them to add three vans to their fleet and provide 24 hour service, seven days per week.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR), released its report earlier this year. It found that MPD engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination during its policing in the past 10 years.
The city is currently in negotiations for a consent decree (or agreement that is enforceable before a court) with MDHR. The Department of Justice is also conducting its own pattern or practice investigation into the police department. Frey, however, reiterated the city’s position that it will only enter into one consent order in his budget address.
Frey has set aside $5M over the next two-years to address court-mandated changes following the consent decree. However, two could be made.
Three full-time positions are also funded by the budget for Civil Rights Office of Police Conduct Review. Frey stated that this is in direct response to MDHR findings.
He said that a consent decree is needed to start the necessary work and changes. This increased investigative capacity decreases the caseload, which allows for more thorough investigation .”
The City Council’s Budget Committee began hearings about the mayor’s budget earlier in the week. Public hearings are expected to start later this month. The budget committee will meet all through the fall, before voting on the final budget in December.
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