MINNEAPOLIS, MN – According to a report from the Minnesota Reformer, during a recorded discussion with a local Indigenous leader, a Minneapolis Police officer said that he and his colleagues had adopted a “hands-off” approach to tackling crime, including instances of open drug selling in public.
— Minnesota Reformer (@MNReformer) October 21, 2021
Mike Forcia, an American Indian activist, claimed the Minneapolis officer, whose name could not be identified, recently informed him there was little he could do about suspected drug dealing.
An attempted arrest, according to the officer, would result in a conflict, the media would twist it to make it seem as though the police had beaten an unarmed or innocent black guy, and Lake Street would burn once again like it did in 2020.
Police inaction was also blamed by the officer on Governor Tim Walz, Mayor Jacob Frey, and the Minneapolis City Council, saying “it’s what they want,” regarding the police inaction.
Forcia’s conversation with the officer is sure to add gasoline to the proverbial fire of those who claim Minneapolis cops have ceased performing their duties while still being paid.
Meanwhile, police supporters claim that progressive lawmakers and excessive media criticism have rendered policing in high-crime areas nearly impossible, with gun crimes on the rise in the last 18 months.
Between now and November 2nd, Minneapolis voters will decide whether they want to defund the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new department of public safety that focuses on public health and gives the City Council a bigger role in the realm of policing.
Forcia filmed the discussion on his phone, and Javier Morillo, a paid consultant for Yes 4 Minneapolis, an organization advocating for the defunding of the Minneapolis Police Department, uploaded the video to YouTube.
Morillo managed to engage in exactly what the officer was complaining about in the video as well – by spinning the interaction between the officer and Forcia. In the clip uploaded to YouTube, Morillo titled the video “Minneapolis Police Dept: If they can’t police like Derek Chauvin they won’t police at all”.
But nowhere in the video did the officer proclaim that he’s upset that he and other officers can’t engage in wanton excessive force, in fact, the officer in the video derided other officers who engage in excessive force when Forcia detailed an incident where he was unlawfully injured by police:
“I’m sorry that happened to you. Yeah, I can agree, stuff like that needs to change.”
The exchange between Forcia and the officer stemmed from Forcia calling police on October 17th about a man in a pickup truck who appeared to be selling drugs near the Homeward Bound Shelter where Forcia works.
It took a couple hours for police to respond to the scene, and the pickup truck left the area after a squad car pulled up. When Forcia asked one of the responding officers if they looked inside of the suspicious vehicle, the officer said no and explained:
“I’m gonna be honest with you, you know, this sucks and you guys don’t wanna hear this, but our hands are tied.”
After the officer explained he was not able to take action unless a more serious violation – like a hit on the plate for a stolen vehicle – was present, Forcia asked where that instruction is coming from. The officer responded with:
“Because of politicians… The City Council mainly. The mayor a little bit and the governor a little bit.”
Forcia narrowed the question to ask whether that unwritten rule from local politicians applied to simply peering into a suspect’s vehicle, like the one officers were called about. The officer responded with:
“Well, it’s not a policy, but it’s what they want.”
According to a Reuters report based on Minneapolis Police data, the number of individuals contacted on the street by police who thought them suspicious has decreased by 76% after the murder of George Floyd. Officers also stopped 85% fewer vehicles for traffic infractions, and as a result, fewer illegal firearms were discovered and confiscated.
City Council member Phillipe Cunningham is among those using the videoed interaction as some sort of proof that police are admitting to “not doing” their job while being fully-funded:
“To be clear, neither I nor my colleagues on the council ever told MPD not to do their job. The officer expresses a fear shared among officers about public scrutiny over police/community interactions. He blames the Council for conscious inaction while acknowledging they haven’t been defunded whatsoever. This officer admitted on camera to not doing his job, despite MPD having full funding. Let me know of any other job where someone could behave and speak in the same way on camera and not get fired.”
(2/7) while acknowledging they haven’t been defunded whatsoever. This officer admitted on camera to not doing his job, despite MPD having full funding. Let me know of any other job where someone could behave and speak in the same way on camera and not get fired.
— Phillipe Cunningham (@CunninghamMPLS) October 21, 2021
It goes without saying that the likelihood that this specific officer seen in the videoed interaction having received any orders directly from the likes of the City Council or even the mayor is slim – but that isn’t what the officer appears to be implying, either.
In reference to the video captured, the officer appears to be alluding that he (and other officers) got the word from their own command to curtail certain practices, which those alleged directives likely stemmed from what some would call closed-door meetings with officials like the mayor.
To ignore the certainty that such meetings occur in levels of local government, where unofficial directives get handed down, is an act of pure ignorance on how government works on paper versus how it operates in reality.
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Minneapolis has so many workers’ comp claims by wounded cops that it needs an installment plan
(Originally published October 13th, 2021)
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.
The city of Minneapolis has had so many workers’ compensation settlements with cops in the past year-and-a-half that it has begun spreading out the payments over three or four years, instead of paying workers in one lump sum: https://t.co/sedL9hbWrt via @mnreformer
— Deena Winter (@deenafaywinter) October 12, 2021
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.
An installment plan for police workers comp settlements? Now I've heard it all!
— Ricardo Lopez (@rljourno) October 12, 2021
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.
Minneapolis staff outlined a big jump in PTSD claims, causing settled workers' comp settlements to jump to more than $14 million in 2020. Much of it is due to MPD PTSD claims. A state law that went into effect in 2019 made this easier. https://t.co/G7tx5keHRz via @mprnews
— Jon Collins (@JonSCollins) October 7, 2021
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.
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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