Three police organizations representing more than 10,000 police officers, 300 police chiefs, and 87 county sheriff’s offices sent a letter to the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Safety, Criminal Justice Reform, Finance and Policy Division remaining non-committal over whether they’ll assist the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) during the upcoming trial of former MPD officer Derek Chauvin.
“We are writing on behalf of the largest statewide law enforcement associations in Minnesota,” the letter said. “Together the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA), The Minnesota Sheriff’s Association (MCA), and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) represent more than 300 police chiefs, 87 county sheriff’s, and approximately 10,400 rank-and-file officers respectively.”
The letter thanked Gov. Tim Walz (D) for proposing the State Aid and Emergencies (SAFE) windfall of $35 million in his 2021 budget, which would be committed to helping Minneapolis and other local governments pay for support from law enforcement in the event of unplanned emergencies, like rioting during the Chauvin trial.
The law enforcement organizations said it supported “the Governor’s bill language as introduced,” and that they were “grateful for the open conversations about this issue over the past month.”
But, the groups said, they remain unsure whether they will be willing to lend a helping hand in Minneapolis during Chauvin’s trial. Chauvin, a former MPD officer, is accused of murder in the death of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide riots and demands to “defund” or “dismantle” the police.
“Our members remain concerned, however, that no matter what legislation is passed, the response for mutual aid will not be as robust as the public may expect,” the letter said. “Our members’ concern is due to the continued demonization of law enforcement officers by certain public officials at various levels of government.”
The letter, signed by Brian Peters, the executive director of the MPPOA, Bill Hutton, the executive director of the MSA and Jeff Potts, the executive director of the MCPA, did not specify exactly who those “public officials” were.
Earlier this week, The Minnesota Sun reported that MPD was scrambling after beginning 2021 with 200 fewer police officers than 2020.
Months after the rioting over Floyd’s death finally died down, 24 MPD officers decided to retire early, and more than 150 are on “extended leave,” many citing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as their reasoning. The department is not confident that those officers will return, which has led them to seek outside help for more rioting, which they expect during Chauvin’s trial.
The department is currently short-staffed, and triaging 911 calls. They are focused on answering the most serious calls, like homicides, shootings, and robberies.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) was a ringleader of the opposition to MPD after Floyd’s death. She defended “dismantling” the department, and said it was “rotten to the root” in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper:
A new way forward can’t be put in place if we have a department that is having a crisis of credibility, if we have a department that’s led by a chief who’s suited for racism, if we have a department that hasn’t solved homicide — half of the homicides in Minneapolis police department go unsolved. There have been cases where they’ve destroyed rape kits. And so you can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild. And so this is our opportunity, as a city, to come together, have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community.
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