The Minneapolis City Council has approved extra police funding amid a surge in violent crime, after earlier heeding “defund the police” calls, slashing nearly $1 million from the force, and pledging to “end policing as we know it.”
The council voted last Friday to approve an additional $496,800 for the Minneapolis Police Department, after months ago vowing to dismantle the department and set up a new system of public safety.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Tuesday pleaded for assistance from outside police forces to help with their shortage in staff amid a sharp rise in violent crime. Statistics show criminal activity surging to its highest levels in at least 15 years, with 74 people dead and about 500 wounded by gunfire so far this year.
The department had 874 police officers before the city cut its budget by $1 million earlier this year. That number is now down to 834, with 121 on leave, police spokesman John Elder said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“Resources are hemorrhaging. Our city is bleeding at this moment. I’m trying to do all I can to stop that bleeding,” Arradondo said. Arradondo also called for more funding to launch a citywide joint enforcement team initiative.
Minneapolis residents urged city leaders to adopt a strategy to reduce incidents of violent crime.
The Minneapolis City Council on Friday voted 7-6 to allocate nearly $500,000 to cover the cost of the joint enforcement team that will draw on outside officers to temporarily assist Minnesota police with violent crimes through the end of the year, CBS Minnesota reported.
Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison complained about the lack of specific objectives that would tie the additional funds to performance criteria.
“Even though I voted against this half a million dollars, it passed. That means that the police department is still accountable to me and my constituents in regard to where this money goes and how it’s spent,” Ellison said, CBS reported.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, in a post on social media, acknowledged that “neighborhoods across our city have endured an intolerable level of gun violence and crime” and said he would support the police chief in his calls for more resources to fight crime.
“Today we sent a clear signal that we will support Chief Arradondo and that we are ready to work collaboratively with our law enforcement partners and neighboring jurisdictions while continuing to implement concrete, transformative public safety measures,” Frey wrote.
Following the police custody death of George Floyd in late May, city leaders pushed to defund and reform the force. But while the council’s subsequent pledge “to end policing as we know it” delighted activists, opposition from residents and some officials has mounted, driven by soaring violent crime.
The council’s vote on Friday came ahead of public hearings this week on the city’s budget for the next fiscal year.