A judge on July 1 ruled in favor of a group that filed a lawsuit demanding more police officers be brought into the city, after city council members and activist groups advocated to replace the police department following the death of George Floyd.
Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson issued a writ of mandamus (pdf) ordering the city to hire more police officers, specifically that Minneapolis should have at least 730 officers or .0017 of the 2020 census population, whichever is higher, by the end of June 2022.
An unprecedented number of officers quit or went on extended medical leave after Floyd’s death and the unrest that followed, which included the burning of a police precinct. With new recruit classes, the city anticipates it will have 674 officers available at the end of the year, with another 28 in the hiring process, the Star Tribune reported.
Floyd died May 25 last year after being restrained by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd’s death sparked widespread riots and protests. Chauvin was sentenced on June 25 to 22 1/2 years in prison for second-degree murder.
The death of Floyd triggered left-wing demonstrations, riots, and violence across the country as well as calls to “defund the police,” which some critics have said has led to a significant rise in crime across major U.S. metropolitan areas in recent months. Minneapolis was particularly hit hard by weeks of riots, arson attacks, looting, and violence in the wake of Floyd’s death, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage.
Amid calls to dismantle the department, some residents have begged the city to hire more officers, citing longer response times and an increase in violent crime.
“Minneapolis is in a crisis,” the eight plaintiffs linked to the conservative Upper Midwest Law Center wrote in their lawsuit, noting the recent spike in violent crime in the city, FOX 9 reported.
In his decision, the judge wrote that the eight plaintiffs, all Minneapolis residents, were able to show that the lack of officers in the city is linked to the surge in crime and has caused personal injuries.
“This is a huge victory for the Petitioners and all residents of Minneapolis, especially those in the most diverse neighborhoods feeling the brunt of rising crime rates,” Doug Seaton, president of the Upper Midwest Law Center, said in a statement in response to the decision.
“We applaud the Court’s decision and look forward to swift action by the City Council and Mayor to fund the police and ensure the safety of all Minneapolitans.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.