Hennepin County leaders press lawmakers to spend surplus on public safety

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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey speaks at a news conference about public safety financing in Minneapolis on Wednesady.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Elected officials in Hennepin County are urging Minnesota lawmakers to spend part of the state's surplus on public safety.

Gov. Tim Walz has proposed setting aside $550 million for local police and fire departments and other public safety agencies across Minnesota.

At a news conference at the Hennepin County Government Center on Wednesday, Brooklyn Park Mayor Hollies Winston said crime in the Minneapolis suburb is trending downward, but challenges remain, including a shooting Tuesday that left three people with serious injuries.

“We have done the work of fully funding our police in Brooklyn Park,” Winston said. “We have alternative response models. We're investing in violence interrupters to get at the root of the cause and figure out who is committing many of these crimes. But the reality is that isn't sustainable without additional resources.”

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Under the plan, Hennepin County would receive a one-time infusion of $26 million, and the city of Minneapolis would get $34 million.

“We're asking for these funds so that we can fund both police officers and violence prevention, both so we can protect our communities and we can respond to 911 calls, but also so we can make the improvements that I think everybody's rightfully asking for,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Frey also said he expects the city to incur additional technology costs for the police department to comply with the recent Minnesota Department of Human Rights settlement agreement.

“We’ve seen cities throughout the country that have been subject to some form of court-enforced settlement that have spent more than $100 million over a period of years on technology and enforcing the agreement itself,” Frey said.

The city is also expected to enter into a separate consent decree with the federal government once the Justice Department concludes its investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department that began in 2021.