Minneapolis is still experiencing criminal activity. Some neighborhoods have joined forces to raise funds for additional police patrols to make their communities feel safer.
Residents and city officials have expressed concerns about the program’s operation, given the department’s staffing problems. They also question whether it creates inequity for those neighborhoods that cannot afford extra patrols.
Crowdfunding public security
Minneapolis Police Department’s “buyback” program (MPD), is a contract between the city of Minneapolis and an outside organization. It allows the organization to secure extra police presence and patrols, and pay for overtime hours. These agreements were funded by federal and state grants, as well as sports teams and venues that require extra security at events and neighbourhood and business groups. Before officers can sign up for the additional hours, the contracts must be approved by the city council.
Neighborhoods accounted for 22% of nearly 9,700 hours spent by MPD officers in 2021 , according to a presentation prepared by the department to city.
Through a non-profit called the Minneapolis Safety Initiative, the Lowry Hill neighborhood secured a contract from the city for $210,000 to provide additional police patrols. Each officer will work an hour and cost $107. According to the nonprofit’s website, the initiative is a temporary measure to tackle the current crime wave while MPD rebuilds to full staffing levels. It suggests that a $220 monthly donation be made for six months to ensure the program has the desired impact.
Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA), started organizing a fundraiser for an off-duty officer to walk downtown the Mill District from Thursday through Sunday, from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. (from June 18 to September 4). The GiveMN.org fundraiser has raised over $4,800. Rainville declined to comment on this story. Multiple requests for comment were not answered by the DMNA.
What do you think about other areas?
Minnesota Compass reports that it may be possible to pay for additional police patrols in high-crime areas like Lowry Hill. There, about 40% of residents earn more than $100,000 per year. Cedar-Riverside, where the number of residents making less than $100,000 a year is only 5%, is a good example of a neighborhood that can afford extra police patrols. However, residents living in upscale neighborhoods may not be able to use subsidized programs like police buyback to get more access to policing.
Awed stated that safety shouldn’t be measured or administered according to the economic tax bracket you are in. “When it comes down to your safety, money shouldn’t be an object. Unfortunately that seems to be the reality .”
Elliott Payne (Ward 1 Councilmember) said, “I believe that everyone who is a taxpayer should receive equal service.” He also spoke out against wealthy neighborhoods pooling resources in order to get better service. Elliott Payne represents northeast Minneapolis and parts of southeast Minneapolis. I would prefer to see this managed more equitably as a part of a comprehensive staffing system that takes into account the actual needs of each neighborhood, and not just the resources.
MPD’s staffing problems are well-known, with its rank-and-file numbers still recovering after an exodus from officers following protests and civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s death under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis officer. According to Amelia Huffman, the department had 564 active officers at every level as of June 18. This is still 200 less than the 731 charter-mandated officers, based on the latest census data.
The buyback program is a way for MPD officers to target crime hotspots and crime trends, as well as to increase the number of hours available for additional security patrols and protection for large-scale events, businesses, and neighborhoods. Payne stated that it was difficult to hear the constant drumbeat of staff shortages, coupled with the fact that apparently there is enough open capacity for additional patrols span>
Payne stated that he believes there is a cognitive dissonance in the buyback program.
Ward 1 councilmember stated that oftentimes, the most needy neighborhoods have the lowest resources. By allowing wealthy neighborhoods to access the full capacity of the police force in adisproportionate amount through programs such as buyback, it means that neighborhoods with higher needs will see their needs ignored.
He said that this possibility exists and that there must be more checks to prevent it. One solution is to give the city council more control over which buyback contracts they accept – currently this happens precinct by precinct. This would enable city staff to request stronger racial equity impacts analyses for every contract that is requested.
Awed stated that he understands that each neighborhood has its own safety needs. Although more police officers would be a better way to combat violent crime, his group can still help with crime prevention through youth outreach and skill training programs.
He said that he couldn’t spend money on things that were not necessary. “But we can certainly try to empower our children with as many investments as we can for our neighborhood, and to try to do so in a manner that empowers the neighborhood to address some of these underlying safety issues span>