MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The crime rate is continuing its meteoric rise in Minneapolis just a week after the city council voted to slash the city’s police budget amid calls to “defund the police.”
Compared to last year, murders are up 75% so far this year in Minneapolis, according to Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) data. There have been 78 people murdered year-to-date, compared to 45 murders last year.
Police have recorded 532 gunshot victims this year, more than double the same period a year ago. Carjackings have also spiked to 375 so far this year, up by triple-digit-percentages from the same period last year.
In addition, violent crimes have also surged, with 5,237 reported so far this year, compared to the 4,169 during the same period in 2019, statistics show.
As the murder rate skyrockets in Minneapolis, two city council members this week distanced themselves from the “defund the police” movement, just days after the council cut the police department’s budget. Last week, the council unanimously approved a budget to shift $8 million from the department toward violence prevention and mental health programs.
The two city councilmembers argued over, essentially, a choice of words that means the same things, no matter how you say it.
Steve Fletcher, the city council member who has been most aggressive against the Minneapolis police and for the changes in funding, sounded irritated in an interview with KSTP-TV:
“‘Defund’ is not the framework the council has ever chosen.”
Fletcher said during the interview. Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, who was also interviewed, agreed.
Ironically, both Fletcher and Cunningham were two of the nine city council members who attended a June event — standing behind a sign that said, “defund police.”
The event came just weeks after the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. At the event, council member Jeremiah Ellison promised that the council would “dismantle” the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).
Backtracking from their original words, both Cunningham and Fletcher appear to want to change their original narrative.
Cunningham told KSTP-TV:
“I think that it’s important to name that dismantle does not mean dismantle into nothing, it means dismantling what we currently have to build something new.
“Minneapolis residents wanted the council ‘to do something really hard – to transform a system that’s existed more than a hundred years.’”
Fletcher also seemed to backpedal:
“The thing that we care about is, what’s the system we’re designing that’s better?
“And yes, if we design a better system that’s going to mean investing less in traditional armed law enforcement because we’re relying less on that.
“If we’re going to look at how we fund different programs, it would be very hard to do that without taking that money from the Minneapolis Police Department. There’s very little elsewhere in the city where it feels like there’s money to be taken.”
Regardless of the narrative, language, or semantics, there’s no denying that crime is exploding in Minneapolis.
Carjackings in Minneapolis have increased by 537% in November 2020, compared to November 2019. 537%.
In all, with crime exploding in Minneapolis due to the “George Floyd effect” and defunding of the police, increased carjackings shouldn’t be a surprise. Carjackings have increased in the city, just like every other major and minor crime.
According to Minneapolis police data, more than 500 people have been shot in the city this year.
In a contradictory attitude to Fletcher’s and Cunningham’s “dismantling” idea involving the police, Mayor Jacob Frey countered his previous statements, as well.
Mayor Frey, who was in the middle of protests during the summer and actually encouraged people to participate, now says that budget cuts to the police force are “irresponsible and untenable.” He added:
“This notion that in order to have a more comprehensive public safety strategy you have to do away with one critical element, which is police, is wrong.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said that crime was increasing all over the city:
“Crime is occurring, the shootings, the carjackings, the robberies. They are citywide, they are impacting everyone, and not just one constituency base and not just one neighborhood.”
Chief Arradondo has been very vocal, of course, about the city council’s continual attacks on the police budget, showing the police force less and less respect. He has stated several times that we can’t lose police budget money, lose officers, and fight against increasing crime – it’s a Catch-22.
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Minneapolis City Council cuts $8M from police budget, but folds on reducing manpower under Mayor’s veto threat
December 12, 2020
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Minneapolis Police Department budget has just taken another hit, but the city council seems more reserved in their position, possibly trying to satisfy both sides of the police defunding argument.
The Minneapolis City Council passed a budget early Thursday that moves about $8 million from the Police Department to other services but preserves its plan to hire more officers in future years.
A late change to the department’s staffing projections passed along a narrow 7-6 vote but did not change the number of officers who will work in 2021. Instead, the move avoided a political showdown with Mayor Jacob Frey.
The city expects a monthly average of 770 police officers will work in 2021 if the council agrees to release funding for some recruit classes. The City Council had initially planned to drop the force’s authorized size to 750 officers starting in 2022 but reversed course late Wednesday.
Frey, who sought to keep the current target level of 888, had said he was considering vetoing the budget because he was concerned about “the massive permanent cut to officer capacity” in future years.
In a statement early Thursday, Frey applauded the council’s vote on the budget:
“My colleagues were right to leave the targeted staffing level unchanged from 888 and continue moving forward with our shared priorities.
The additional funding for new public safety solutions will also allow the City to continue upscaling important mental health, non-police response, and social service components in our emergency response system.”
The 2021 budget served as the latest venue for debates on changing the police department after George Floyd’s death and a subsequent pledge by a majority of council members to end the department.
As the talks unfolded, city leaders deliberated on whether they should leave the department mostly intact while building out new services or cut the department to fund them.
The new council-approved $1.5 billion budget will dedicate at least $400,000 to the Minneapolis Forward Community Now Coalition and $1.1 million in ongoing funding to the Minneapolis Forward Rebuild Resilient initiative to support economic recovery.
Early this morning, the Minneapolis City Council approved a budget that will cut around $8 million from the police department and redirect it to violence prevention and other programs. However, the MPD’s staffing levels will not be cut. | https://t.co/gfIcvXrFar
— WCCO – CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) December 10, 2020
While the city is seeking to change its public safety system, it is also experiencing a crime wave that includes more than 500 shootings, and a previously reported 537% increase in the number of carjackings, compared to 2019.
Frey pitched a $1.5 billion spending plan that included about $179 million for the police department, down from about $193 million initially approved for it in 2020.
The council cut an additional $7.7 million from the police department, directly the funds instead for mental health crisis teams, training dispatchers to assess mental health calls, and have other employees handle theft and property damage reports.
The council also placed $11.4 million in a reserve fund they created. That fund will include about $6.4 million that was included in Frey’s plan to hire two police recruit classes and about $5 million that could be used to offset cuts council members made to police overtime. To access that money, the police department will need additional approval from the City Council in votes next year.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told council members earlier this week that they needed additional overtime in 2021 to make sure officers are available to answer 911 calls amid a shortage, and to prepare for the potential for more unrest associated with the trials of ex-officers charged in Floyd’s death.
Minneapolis police union head blasts city council, says officers ‘cannot keep the public safe with these cuts’https://t.co/uHuYc59hSX
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 10, 2020
Arradondo told the city council in their latest meeting:
“It is a natural necessity to have overtime. If our officers are out at a call, be it an accident or an assault, or a robbery, they will not just stop their duties when their 10-hour shift is up. They will stay there to complete the task.”
Arradondo said the department, which had 874 officers at the beginning of the year, is effectively down 166 officers, between officers who have resigned and officers who are on leave. The department’s leave figures are far higher than average this year, in part because a large number of officers filed PTSD claims after the summer rioting.
The council voted 7-6 Wednesday night to restore the police manning level to 888, with Vice President Andrea Jenkins as the swing vote.
Jenkins said it was a difficult decision. She voted the opposite way earlier in the week. She explained:
“The reality right now is that Chief Arradondo is woefully understaffed for a variety of reasons. Do I believe that this effort will resolve all of our problems, all of our crime issues overnight? Absolutely not. Neither will all of the social service programs and initiatives. It’s going to take all of these things together to lower the crime rate.”
Councilmember Steve Fletcher, the most liberal and outspoken critic of the police department, said:
“I cannot believe the mayor threatened a veto on this topic. We are talking about officers that do not exist and nobody is proposing in 2021.”
If Mayor Frey approves the budget, the discussion next year will be about whether to cut or add to a department authorized to employ 888 officers. Had the council’s earlier plan remained in place, the discussion would have been about whether to cut or add to a department designed for 750 officers.
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Author: James E. Lewis