The city of Minneapolis will spend nearly more than six million dollars recruiting new police officers, after beginning 2021 with 200 fewer officers than one year prior.
“Minneapolis will hire dozens more police officers after the City Council on Friday agreed to release $6.4 million to bring on additional recruits,” The Star-Tribune reported.
The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to fund the police department’s recruitment efforts just eight days after the police force requested the funding.
It has been a tough year for the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, for which former officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder, summer-long rioting gripped the city, and much of the rest of the country. Those riots took an immense toll on the MPD, with at least 24 officers opting for early retirement, and more than 150 on “extended leave,” many citing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Now, residents are complaining of slow response times and higher crime rates in the city, as MPD has been forced to forego some 911 calls in favor of more serious crimes like homicides, robberies, and shootings.
The shortage of police officers has left the city scrambling before Chauvin’s high-profile trial for second-degree murder, which beings March 8. Three other police officers will be tried separately, and are accused of aiding and abetting Chauvin in Floyd’s death. The city is worried that more violent riots could break out, and has asked Minnesota law enforcement entities and the National Guard for help.
But those Minnesota law enforcement entities are hesitant.
Three police organizations representing more than 10,000 police officers, 300 police chiefs, and 87 county sheriff’s offices last week sent a letter to the Minnesota House of Representatives saying they were unsure whether they would answer the call for additional security during Chauvin’s trial.
“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 law enforcement organizations said their members were “concerned” with anti-police rhetoric from politicians.
“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.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), whose congressional district includes Minneapolis, was a major proponent of a nationwide anti-police movement. In CNN interview, she defended the idea of “dismantling” MPD. She told 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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