MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis City Councilmember Steve Fletcher spoke to WCCO Monday about the city’s recent increase in violence.
The Ward 3 representative says it’s a false narrative that the council’s desire to replace the Minneapolis Police Department is related to the crime surge and MPD’s response.
Fletcher says the only defunding of the department has been a 5% budget cut that was mostly due to COVID-19.
“The patrol numbers are just as strong as they were last year,” Fletcher said. “The number of 911 calls has not changed, but we are seeing changes in response that really aren’t explainable by budget cuts.”
Since Memorial Day, violent crime in Minneapolis is up 25% compared to the same period last year. The number of service calls responded to in that timeframe is down 38% from 2019.
Chief Medaria Arradondo told the city council this month there are enough patrol officers, so Fletcher says it’s a problem if the fewer calls are a way for MPD to try to prove a political point.
“We can’t change them without talking about them, and if that means that sometimes there are hurt feelings, that is probably part of how public life works,” Fletcher said. “And people still need to show up and do the jobs they say they’re going to do and are collecting a paycheck for.”
Last week, the head of the department’s 3rd Precinct emailed the owner of a business near East 48th Street and Chicago Avenue that there’s no long-term plan to deal with crime in the area. The police inspector cited budget cuts and low staffing. The email alarmed Fletcher.
“Seeing someone at the top using that kind of rhetoric, and really undermining people’s sense of optimism and our ability to problem solve as a city, I think is very upsetting because it really indicates that we have some deeper problems,” he said.
Fletcher says it’s more important than ever to look at new ways to respond to public safety issues.
MPD did not return requests for comment Monday.
The department responded to WCCO’s story last week about the inspector’s email with this statement:
In these very challenging times of COVID, budget cuts and retirements, the MPD continues to evaluate and reallocate the resources that we currently have to best serve the City of Minneapolis, focusing on the core responsibilities of a police department; responding to 911 calls and investigations.