MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has broken his silence about what ultimately led up to the Minneapolis Police Department’s withdrawal from the 3rd Precinct building in south Minneapolis Thursday, which was then overrun by the massed crowds protesting the death of George Floyd.

That building was then heavily damaged in flames.

WCCO asked him the following questions about what happened and why, and what follow are Frey’s answers.

When was the decision made that police would (eventually) vacate the 3rd Precinct, even if the exact time of that happening wasn’t determined yet?

Chief Arradondo and I made the decision early yesterday afternoon to significantly reduce our footprint in the Third Precinct. We also decided early that the option to vacate the 3rd Precinct needed to be on the table as a way to both help de-escalate and prevent hand-to-hand combat. Did I know with certainty it would need to happen?

No, but at roughly 9:25 p.m. when it became clear we needed to divert resources from the Third Precinct to help provide a response to activity downtown, I made the decision. I notified the Chief then the governor shortly after.

What was the plan for maintaining order in that neighborhood? In hindsight, it appears as if the city was content with letting it get overrun, which WCCO sources shared with us officers felt that was the directive.

That could not be farther from the truth.

On Wednesday, May 27 at/around 6:30 after people began looting Target, Chief Arradondo called me to tell me that we needed support from the Minnesota Guard.

I called the Governor seconds after that call to officially ask him to provide that support.

The next day – early morning – a Commander and Deputy Chief, reached out to the Department of Public Safety Commissioner. They maintained close contact throughout the day.

To implement an effective anti-looting plan across 11 commercial corridors would have been a massive undertaking. The Guard told us they’d be able to provide roughly 100-200 members with an additional 84 State Patrol officers. We knew that would be good enough to help with fire support, but not other pressing needs.

For the support they did provide, we are grateful and even more so to see them offering additional support now.

We are a police force totaling roughly 800 with far, far less than that on active duty at a given time. Simply by the numbers, we were going to be overwhelmed. It’s a matter of math, not planning.

Our resources were beyond tapped. We had around 30 – 50 priority 1 calls that weren’t being responded to at any given moment, on top of what was happening. We were overwhelmed.

Every available officer was out.

What was your directive to the police department about use of force, stopping rioters, allowing takeovers of buildings like the 3rd precinct and others?

We are a police force totaling over 800 officers with far, far less than that on active duty at a given time. Simply by the numbers, we were going to be overwhelmed. It’s a matter of math, not planning.

Our resources were beyond tapped. We had around 30 – 50 priority 1 calls that weren’t being responded to at any given moment, on top of what was happening. We were overwhelmed.

Chief Arradondo and I prioritize above all else the sanctity of life and we were both devastated to see the city overwhelmed.

Every available officer was out – in addition to those from neighboring jurisdictions.

Do you still have confidence in Chief Arradondo? Should voters still have confidence in you?

He has built up trust in the community over his decades of service to the city he grew up in. His leadership has never been needed more.

My time working with Chief Arradondo has shaped me not just as an elected official but as a leader. I recognize that residents place a sacred trust in both of us, and I will never take that trust for granted.

What did you make of the governor’s characterization today of the city’s handling of last night’s crisis?

Pointing fingers in a time of national crisis won’t make anyone safer. I’ve been in near constant-contact with the governor over the last several days, and I look forward to continue working with him.

With state patrol and national guard stepping in, what is your and the city’s role now in maintaining order?

MPD is working alongside the Department of Public Safety as part of the Incident Command and work closely throughout the night with them in the response.

David Schuman

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