MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis City Council has narrowly voted to contract with outside agencies to help the Minneapolis Police Department.

The agreement, which will bring in officers from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit to help with staffing, will cost the city roughly $500,000 for a contract that runs from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.

The city’s police department has been short-staffed since many officers went on leave ore retired in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo’s ask for help comes amidst a rise in homicides and shootings throughout the city. Compared to last year, homicides are up 87%, robberies have increased 37%. Assaults are up 23% and burglaries are up 21%.

The vote by the city council passed, 7-6. Councilmembers Lisa Goodman, Alondra Cano, Andrea Jenkins, Kevin Reich, Jamal Osman, Linea Palmisano, and Andrew Johnson voted in favor of the proposal. Steve Fletcher, Jeremiah Ellison, Lisa Bender, Phillipe Cunningham, Cam Gordon, and Jeremy Schroeder voted against.

“My concern is that without a plan and without an understanding of what success looks like this half a million dollars is going to come and go, and we won’t necessarily know whether it met its goal because no goal was ever stated,” Ellison said. “I’ll be curious to see what public safety goals this meets.”

Several of the council members who called for the dismantling of police back in June approved this proposal, including Cano of Ward 9, Jenkins of Ward 8, and Johnson of Ward 12.

“Minneapolis, like local governments across this country, is grappling with competing crises – combating a global pandemic, weathering an economic downturn, and pursuing racial justice,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Frey said neighborhoods across Minneapolis are at the same time enduring an “intolerable” level of crime and gun violence.

“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 said.

However, the Metropolitan Council has said they cannot contract with the MPD. “The Metro Transit Police Department does not have the capacity to provide additional resources to the Minneapolis Police Department,” said a statement Friday afternoon. “But we will continue to work collaboratively with MPD on multiple fronts ensuring the safety of our transit system and riders.”

Ellison says he’s watching to see what if any impact the additional fund and boots on the ground will have on reducing violence.

“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.

The vote comes ahead of public hearings next week on the city’s 2021 budget. Frey is proposing $500,000 for new recruits and $5 million in additional overtime for MPD.

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Reg Chapman

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