MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A failed attempt to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department now has a lighter follow-up from city council members behind the original proposal.
Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham saw the mass protests following George Floyd’s death in late May as an imperative for something new.
“We had a clear call from residents of this city that they wanted to see transformation,” Cunningham said.
He and council colleagues Lisa Bender and Steve Fletcher have co-written a budget plan that proposes moving about $8 million out of the police department. For context, the current budget allocated nearly $200 million to MPD.
Part of the $8 million would go toward creating unarmed response teams for non-emergencies. Cunningham says without MPD having to deal with theft reports or parking problems, officers would be freed up to investigate violent crime.
“This is about focusing the resources where they are needed, while also unburdening the police department from having to respond to up to 15% of the calls right now that really fall outside of what their purview is,” Cunningham said.
There would also be dedicated staff to respond to mental health crises, which is a common 911 call category. Other parts of the proposal include violence prevention programs and police accountability efforts.
The number of officers would be reduced to 770, the same as Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget proposal. Frey’s plan, however, allows for more officers to be added in future years, while the council members’ proposal would look to continue to decrease the amount of officers.
Frey’s spokesperson said in a statement, “The mayor would have significant concerns if his council colleagues attempted to make such large, permanent cuts without sound data or community input to support such a decision.”
Cunningham says this proposal was built on two years of work that included community members. Frey’s MPD budget also includes alternate responses to low-level offenses.
An MPD spokesperson told WCCO he had no comment on the proposal because none of the council members behind it asked for input from the chief or the department.
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