Minneapolis City Council panel backs bonuses to keep nonunion MPD staff

Police move outside on the street.
An apartment building at 904 21st Avenue is seen behind a police line in Minneapolis, Minn. on July 14.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Facing a shrinking police force, a committee of the Minneapolis City Council voted Monday to move forward a proposal to expand the number of employees eligible for $7,000 retention bonuses in the department. 

Policy and Government Oversight Committee Chair Jeremiah Ellison said the change creates equity among Minneapolis Police Department positions. 

“If we're going to have things happening on the represented side, then the non-represented side also gets to see an increase in what they're earning, for the sake of fairness,” Ellison said. 

In March, the Minneapolis City Council approved the city’s contract with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, which included $7,000 bonuses for officers who stick around. That applied to sworn employees of the department who are part of the union, including lieutenants, officers and sergeants.

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The proposal that moved ahead from the Policy and Government Oversight Committee Monday includes funding to add retention bonuses for 25 sworn employees who aren’t part of the union, including police chiefs, commanders and inspectors. The fiscal cost would be about $150,000, according to the city. 

Council Member Robin Wonsley said the city shouldn't forget about non-police city staff when offering incentives to stay on the job.

"I know public works is struggling with recruitment and retention, but they're also not getting $7,000 bonuses, and these are workers who are maintaining our roads, our infrastructure, and doing a multitude of really important work,” Wonsley said. 

Minneapolis is down hundreds of police officers since George Floyd was murdered by then-officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020. Many of those former officers received workers’ compensation settlements for PTSD claims costing the city tens of millions of dollars. A state law that went into effect in January 2019 that made it easier for first responders, including police, to file PTSD claims. 

The proposal would also allow non-union MPD employees to bank more than 400 hours of vacation time until the end of next year. It still needs to pass the full Minneapolis City Council.