Minneapolis has so many workers’ comp claims by wounded cops that it needs an installment plan

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Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – According to local reports, the city of Minneapolis is employing an installment plan that would span several years – as opposed to lump sums – to address the vast amount of workers’ compensation settlements for police officers that have amassed over the 18 months.

It’s hardly news that the effects from the riots that spawned in late May of 2020 has adversely impacted policing in Minneapolis. There were riots abound, a police precinct was literally burned to the ground by miscreants, and there was certainly no shortage of officer injuries.

Thus, workers’ compensations claims poured in from Minneapolis Police officers that were part of the response to those very riots. And now officials are looking to sparse out payments.

Emily Colby, the city’s director of risk management and claims, told the Minneapolis City Council recently that spacing out the settlement payments allows the city to “take care of cash-flow issues.”

In Mayor Jacob Frey’s 2022 budget, the city has approximately $5 million in delayed payments, and will likely have about the same amount in 2023. She expects the sum to be considerably lower in 2024.

Lori Johnson, the city’s deputy chief finance officer, stated the following during a presentation to the Policy & Government Oversight Committee:

“We obviously want cash to pay the bills so that is why we’re structuring these to be longer and claims are paid over time so we have that luxury of time, and the ability to plan.”

The city is self-insured, which entails that its departments pay into a fund to cover things like workers’ compensation claims. The expense is ultimately paid by Minneapolis taxpayers.

Post-traumatic stress disorder cases are now accounting for a significantly higher percentage of claims than in prior years, according to Colby.

Minnesota designated PTSD as a qualifying workers’ comp injury in 2014, but the city only received a few claims each year until 2019, when new state legislation made it simpler for first responders to seek PTSD disability retirement. If a public employee suffers from PTSD, it is considered to be linked to their work under that legislation.

According to the city’s Finance and Property Services Department, the city received ten PTSD claims in 2019. After George Floyd was killed in May of 2020, the number of PTSD claims skyrocketed, with almost 200 being made since then.

The number of claims has started to decline in 2021, but they are still actively pouring in. Once a claim is filed, city employees are faced with either accepting, denying, or mediating the claim.

Employees with 20 to 30 years of service submitted almost half of the PTSD claims filed after Floyd’s death through September 2nd of 2021. Workers over the age of 45 accounted for almost half of the total.

At the end of August, the city’s self-insurance fund, which is made up of six accounts for things like medical and dental insurance, had a cash balance of almost $142 million. Workers’ compensation accounted for $29.3 million of the total.

The net position of the self-insurance fund, on the other hand, is less solid.

Imagine Minneapolis’ net position of the self-insurance fund looked like an individual person’s personal savings account – and then they were forced to pay off their home mortgage and vehicle loans all in one day.

This is the conundrum of the current status of the city’s self-insurance net position.

According to the city’s financial department, the workers’ compensation fund had a net position of negative $20 million at the end of August, the general liability fund had a net position of negative $69 million, and the total for all six funds was negative $62 million.

According to Mayor Frey’s budget plan, the self-insurance fund’s net position at the end of 2016 was $21 million but had dropped to a negative $98 million by the end of 2020. According to Mayor Frey’s budget, the deficit will be $94 million by 2022.

That, according to Minneapolis Deputy CFO Johnson, is based on a statistical analysis that is a snapshot in time that city employees are continuously analyzing.

Due to workers’ compensation claims and general liability settlements, mayor Frey’s proposed budget includes a one-time $24 million transfer of general funds to bolster up the self-insurance fund.

With the uptick in workers’ compensation payouts, the Minneapolis Police Department will also be required to pay more into the self-insurance fund in the coming year. For context, the MPD has been shelling out roughly $3 million a year since 2018 into the fund – come 2022, that number will increase to $10 million under Mayor Frey’s budget.

In a sense, while the City Council has been overzealous in efforts to defund the police, the city is in a precarious situation where it’s effectively defunding itself by happenstance. 

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LET Unity

Minneapolis mayor announces plan for “new” public safety (instead of police) ahead of November vote

(Originally published September 29th, 2021)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- As crime continues to surge across the city, Mayor Jacob Frey recently announced his new public safety proposal late in afternoon on Monday, September 27th.

His four-point plan reportedly includes:

Integrating existing public safety work under one department;

Hiring community-oriented officers;

Expanding police alternatives; and

Pursuing reform together.

The mayor received pushback on his plan as crime in the city remains a critical factor for voters this coming fall.

The surge in violent crime is coinciding with a vote on the charter amendment that seeks to replace the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) with a department of public safety. 

Voters throughout the city see rising crimes as not just a priority, but a crisis. In north Minneapolis, businessman Houston White is overseeing an expansion of his barber shop with the addition of a coffee shop. He said:

“I hear gunshots. Obviously, we need reform, we need to think about what is the future of policing in this city.”

White, who has been in business for 13 years in the Camden neighborhood, does not want the clean slate that a “yes” vote on the public safety charter amendment would bring. He added:

“I want things to be clear and I want time for residents and folks to really be able to chime in on what does public safety look like, so I vote no.”

A recent poll found concern about rising crime dominates every age and ethnic group in the city. Of the residents surveyed, 73 percent said crime is on the rise. The fear is consuming residents across the city, including Laura Sanchez.

At a dog park near Lake of the Isles, residents swap stories. Sanchez said:

“There was a carjacking 400 feet from my house two days ago. I can’t go to my car in the morning with my kid and not like have my back turned and to make sure she gets in the car and that we lock the doors right away.”

Uptown resident Preston Baldwin had bullets actually hit his apartment building. He said:

“I believe in like some type of reform, but like in order to keep the peace, you know, we need, we need the police.”

An op-ed in the StarTribune explains that the ballot question asking residents to vote to replace MPD with a department of public safety has major failings that make it a dangerous and unacceptable gamble for the city. The op-ed states, in part:

“Minneapolis needs police, good ones. The ones who welcome accountability and transparency. Who want, as much as anyone, to be rid of the rogue cops in their midst, who have the training and ability to curb the current surge of violent crime.”

The amendment on the ballot, called “City Question 2,” would accomplish none of what is mentioned above. The op-ed added:

“It would replaced the title of Minneapolis Police Department with that of ‘Department of Public Safety.’ It would replace a police chief, answerable to the mayor, with a commissioner who would answer not only to the mayor, but to each of 13 council members — a recipe for chaos and infighting.”

Voting yes on the ballot would wipe out requirements for a minimum police force that even if reached would be considered inadequate compared to similar-sized cities. As of this writing, Minneapolis is already more than 100 officers below its mandated minimum.

The reforms that are most needed in Minneapolis can be accomplished without changing the charter. Instead, the change is intended to accomplish two aims: Shrink the police force and wrest control from the mayor, who would become only one of 14 votes on public safety. 

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