The Minneapolis City Council approved a budget on Thursday (Dec. 10) that moves $8 million from the city’s police department to violence prevention and other services, but kept Mayor Jacob Frey’stargets for officers intact.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports the budget passed in a close 7-6 vote after Frey had threatened a veto if it limited police staffing. So the number of sworn officers serving in 2021 will not be reduced.
Although the council wanted to drop that number to 750 in 2022, Frey wanted the target number to be 888, which the council approved. He praised their move in a statement.
“My colleagues were right to leave the targeted staffing level unchanged from 888 and continue moving forward with our shared priorities,” Frey said. “The additional funding for new public safety solutions will also allow the City to continue upscaling important mental health, non-police response, and social service components in our emergency response system.”
Minneapolis is still finding its footing many months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Officer Derek Chauvin, who was caught in a viral video applying a chokehold, which took Floyd’s life. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Three other officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, were all charged with aiding and abetting murder.
The death spurred nationwide and even global protests over police violence and killings of Black people in America. It came in addition to demonstrations over Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, and many others. Months of unrest in several cities ensued as the masses called for justice.
But Frey, who stood at the epicenter, was left to field calls for reforming his police department as prosecutors pursued justice. City council members debating how they would create the budget went back and forth over whether police would be left alone while building services or cutting personnel to have more funding for them. As the debate went on, the city began to experience an increase in violent crime that has resulted in 500 shootings to date.
Frey submitted a $1.5 billion spending plan with $179 million for police, the Star-Tribune said. That figure was down from the $193 million initially approved in 2020. Another $7.7 million from the police department was cut by the council. That money will go toward mental health crisis teams, dispatchers for assessing mental health calls. Other employees would handle theft and property damage reports.
But there was pushback from Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. He said to councilmembers that in 2021 officers will need overtime so that they are available to respond to 911 calls, due to a shortage and also to be ready for more unrest that may come during and after the trials for the former officers accused in Floyd’s death.
“It is a natural necessity to have overtime,” Arradondo said. “If our officers are out at a call, be it an accident or an assault or a robbery, they will not just stop their duties when their 10-hour shift is up. They will stay there to complete the task.”