Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Monday they oppose a budget proposal that would shift nearly $8 million from the Police Department's 2021 budget.
Late last week, three council members announced they would put forward a plan to funnel those dollars into non-law enforcement based public safety programs and services. Supporters of the plan say given the depleted ranks of the department, that would keep officers free to respond to violent crime calls.
At a news conference, Frey called the proposal, which would decrease the authorized size of the force from 888 to 750, “irresponsible.”
Arradondo said he supports the idea of alternative programs designed to assign other experts to respond to certain types of calls. But he said police officers need to also engage in police work that helps them build strong bonds with community members.
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"And building trust cannot just be relegated to the only time that we have an interaction through a 911 call,” said Arradondo. “ So, by going to that model it actually goes against the very same thing these council members want to do for their communities."
Arradondo said since the beginning of the year there are 120 fewer officers available to work shifts. He said the department is experiencing a “historic” level of attrition this year.
Frey said a significant spike in crime is affecting people all over the city. And he said people want to see police reform, but they also want there to be enough police officers available to respond to emergencies.
"We are hearing from our communities right now that they are looking for a both-and approach,” he said. “They're looking for deep structural change in our Police Department, a full-on culture shift in how we do business. They're looking for elements of safety beyond policing. And they want a police, a law enforcement, response as well."
The council's budget committee will discuss the budget proposal later this week.