of a shortage of MPD officers
Residents of Cedar-Riverside gathered at Brian Coyle Centre Tuesday to voice their safety concerns during a monthly meeting between law enforcement and them.
Residents identified areas in their neighborhood where drug dealers and users are openly listed. They also noted that officers arrive at the scene to find the dealers gone.
The presentation by the neighborhood’s community safety pilot described the long wait times for police to respond to calls. AJ Awed is the Cedar-Riverside Community Council’s executive director and the head of the pilot program. He said he hopes that his group can make up for the diminished police presence. However, it will be more difficult if officers do not respond in time.
He told officers that it would be difficult to get a response if there wasn’t one.
Concerns expressed by Members of the community centered on long response times and decreasing police presence. This highlights how the Minneapolis Police Department’s staffing problems are impacting community efforts around public safety.
One resident described drug dealers and people using them openly on Cedar Avenue. Then, he asked the Minneapolis police officers present why they couldn’t station more officers on that busy boulevard to stop this kind of activity.
“We now have half the number of cops that we used to have,” stated Minneapolis Police Lt. Nick Torborg, First Precinct. “We don’t have much time for general patrolling .”
Torborg stated that it was once a practice for him to compile a list from residents requesting extra patrols. He would then call each day to make a roll call to determine which areas need additional patrols. Officers would take note of these areas and patrol the area between calls to deter crime.
However, between 4:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. the entire First Precinct, which includes all of downtown and Cedar-Riverside, has between 12 to 14 officers on duty. This means that officers have less time between calls to address neighborhood concerns.
Torborg stated that despite our best efforts, we don’t have the same opportunities anymore. “I don’t want any promises that .”
The department is still reeling from the wave of resignations, retirements, and disability leaves that followed George Floyd’s assassination by an officer two years ago. However, it has yet to meet the minimum mandated 731 officers.
Minneapolis currently employs 604 sworn officers. This includes 33 who are on a continuous leave for nearly two weeks.
In an attempt to improve staffing levels, several north Minneapolis residents sued the city, including Don Samuels, a former city councilor. The case was taken to the Minnesota Supreme Court. It ruled that the city must have the minimum number required by the charter.
Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget proposal for the police department, which was unveiled last month would provide $400 million to the department over the next two-years. This will allow the city reach 731 officers next year and finance four new classes recruits for next two years.
On Thursday, the city will hold a recruitment event for public safety in Cedar-Riverside. This is an attempt to encourage more East African residents to apply to become police officers or dispatchers.
The three hour event will be attended Cedric Alexander, the new Office of Community Safety Commissioner, and Amelia Huffman (interim MPD Chief), at the Brian Coyle Center at 5 p.m.