The following article contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- No, this is not a satire piece from the Babylon Bee.
After some members of the city council and numerous community activists have repeatedly advocated defunding or actually disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department, the city is now planning to spend $6.4 million to hire more police officers, according to ABC News.
On Friday, the Minneapolis city council voted unanimously to approve additional funding for the police department, which currently only has 638 officers who area available to work, down 200 from normally authorized staffing.
After officers were basically forced to stand down in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, determined by a medical examiner to be from a drug overdose, a number of them too early retirement or outright quit.
In addition, a number of officers are out on extended medical leave after being injured in the riots which occurred subsequent to Floyd’s death while in police custody.
Initial video released of Floyd’s arrest appeared to indicate that a now-former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, caused Floyd’s death, after he was seen kneeling on the side of Floyd’s neck for just over eleven minutes.
Chauvin, along with three other Minneapolis officers were fired and arrested for their alleged part in Floyd’s death.
That video led to a summer of usually violent riots across the country, which resulted in an estimated minimum of $1 billion in property damage, numerous injuries to both civilians and police personnel, including some career-ending, as well as numerous deaths, most notably that of retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, with his trial scheduled for March. The three other officers were arrested for aiding and abetting. Their respective trials are schedule for August.
The violent riots in Minneapolis included officers having to abandon one of their precinct stations, which subsequently ended up being burned to the ground. The riots also saw hundreds of Minneapolis officers injured, some seriously and some career-ending.
Despite some politicians in Minneapolis sticking their fingers in the air to see which way the wind was blowing, seeking to disband the department, an exploding crime rate, including murders and carjackings has led city residents to literally beg the city to hire more officers. They cited the high crime rate, as well as long response times for police.
Just before the council’s vote, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said they would update the application process for police recruits. That would include questions about residency, college education, specifically majors in criminology, social work, psychology or counseling.
Prospective candidates would also be asked about community involvement, such as volunteering in programs such as the Police Activities League.
Deputy Chief Amelia Huffman told councilors they hope the change “will help us to really feel confident that we are recruiting the kinds of candidates we want right from the beginning.”
The changes in the recruiting policy take place immediately, with the city scheduled to post new openings for recruitment classes next week. Those classes will begin in late summer.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the department started the year with 817 officers on the payroll, 60 fewer than the year before, however the aforementioned 638 are available to work. There are currently 155 officers on some form of extended leave.
Once the new recruits get through training, the city estimates they will have 674 officers available to work by the end of the year, with another 28 officers working their way through the process—that is if they can get people who actually want to be cops in Minneapolis, where there is questionable support for police among portions of the city council.
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Of the officers who went on extended medical leave, a number are said to be suffering from PTSD, which isn’t surprising given the nightly riots which had to wear down on police officers in the city.
The Star-Tribune reported that last year, the city council created a new Public Safety Staffing Reserve Fund, which holds around $11.4 million for police overtime and recruit classes, with the stipulation that the money can only be released with city council approval.
Councilors who supported the initiative said they wanted to improve accountability and transparency for the Minneapolis PD.
Friday night, the funding for the recruiting efforts was approved with no discussion, however one council member, Jeremy Schroeder asked Frey earlier in the meeting for specific details about officer discipline.
Schroeder, along with two other council members—Phillipe Cunningham and Steve Fletcher—have proposed replacing the police department with a “public safety” department which would include police and other services, while also removing the mayor’s “complete power” over city police operations.
A community group called Yes 4 Minneapolis is attempting to gather enough signatures to get a similar proposal on the November ballot.
The group received a grant of half-a-million dollars from the Soros-funded group Open Society Policy Center and is looking to get 20,000 signatures by March 31.
The fact that a Soros group is involved in an initiative to defund a police department is as surprising as Democrats cooking up an impeachment against former President Trump. In other words, not surprising at all.
“We have a policing system that doesn’t work for us and we need alternatives,” said Rachel Bean, a petition signer. “I’m a social worker [shocker] and I feel like we have lots of tools that we could try to create more community safety.”
The petition seeks to remove “police department” language from the city charter and create a “public health-focused Department of Public Safety, “including licensed peace officers if necessary [emphasis added] to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.”
“If necessary?” It would seem to be that with an exploding crime rate, including murders and carjackings it might be a bit “necessary” to have peace officers.
Aside from the police funding, the council also approved an approximate quarter-million dollar contract with a risk management company, Hillard Heintze LLC, which will produce a report analyzing the city’s response to the riots following Floyd’s death.
“The review will help address gaps in service and provide a comprehensive narrative detailing the city’s response to the civil unrest,” the city auditor wrote in the request for funding.
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