MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis police department has about 200 fewer officers than it did two years ago, which poses challenges to properly serve the community, Chief Medaria Arradondo told the city council Thursday.

The department saw a decline in staff at an accelerated rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 and into 2021, Arradondo said. 105 officers left the department, went on leave or retired last year, when typically it’s about 40 to 44 officers per year.

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“This presents operational challenges for me as chief,” Arradondo said. “We need the stability and sworn workforce.”

The department has about 640 sworn active officers and projects about 660 with new hires in February. There were about 850 officers active in the city of Minneapolis in 2019.

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He gave a presentation about staffing plans to the council before the body approved $6.4 million for recruitment and training efforts. That money is being tapped from a special staffing reserve fund that the council created.

“We are dealing with some unprecedented times right now in terms of our staffing, so I think it’s important that we have as many tools as possible to make sure that we’re getting to that level of staffing that we need to in order to properly serve our communities,” Arradondo said.

Council members unanimously approved the funding and also said the chief’s staffing plan was a sound approach.

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Caroline Cummings