MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced during a budget address Friday that 100 police officers are expected to leave the city’s department by the end of the year.
The mayor said dozens of officers have already parted ways with the department. That’s in keeping with WCCO-TV’s reporting, which found last month that 65 officers have already left and a considerable number have filed for leave, with many citing PTSD. The department’s force is typically around 800 officers strong.
The mayor says the officers leaving this year won’t immediately be replaced, as the city government will be under a hiring freeze through 2021. This hiring freeze is part of the city’s belt-tightening strategy in response to the severe economic damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hiring freeze will help save taxpayer dollars, Frey says, adding that the city will also reduce its workforce and scale back programs. The mayor specifically said he wants to avoid a property tax increase upwards of 15%, the amount needed to account for pandemic-related losses.
The unusually high police attrition rate — more than double a normal year — comes following the death of George Floyd, which sparked riots in the Twin Cities and brought increased scrutiny to police amid calls for racial justice and criminal justice reform.
Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even though Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin was fired from the department a day after cellphone video of the fatal arrest was posted online. He faces murder charges.
In the wake of Floyd’s death, protesters in the Twin Cities have called for the Minneapolis Police Department to be abolished. Several members of the Minneapolis City Council have pledged to dismantle the department and replace it with a new apparatus for public safety.
In his address, the mayor reiterated that he does not want to abolish the police department. Instead, he wants to give Chief Medaria Arradondo the ability to remake the department’s culture — particularly through the ability to fire problem officers, which would only be possible through arbitration reform.
To bolster the department next year, the mayor is looking toward community recruitment, hoping to add 28 community service officer positions that were eliminated from the 2020 budget. He also wants to shift some police operations to 311 to free up time for sworn officers.
This is a developing story. Check back for more.