Beset by Black Lives Matter protests and calls to defund police, the city council at least partially acceded to the activists’ demands and will instead redirect the funding to violence-prevention initiatives and mental health services.
However, crime statistics paint a grim picture awaiting the social and mental health care workers who will soon be called upon to fill the breach left by the embattled city police department.
There were some 532 gunshot victims in the city this year, as of last Thursday – more than double the figure at the same point in 2019 – while carjackings have spiked some 331 percent to 375 so far this year.
The total number of violent crimes surpassed 5,100 – up over 1,000 from the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile, some 160 trained police officers have quit or taken leave following a firestorm of protests throughout the summer following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis PD custody on May 25 which prompted worldwide demonstrations, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We all share a deep and abiding reverence for the role our local government plays in service of the people of our city,” Mayor Jacob Frey said of the budget cuts.
“And today, there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future in Minneapolis,” he added, apparently oblivious to the soaring crime rates in the city.
However, the council did perform an about-face on a previous proposal to cut the city’s police force cap from 888 to 750 beginning in 2022, which the mayor described as “irresponsible.”
City council member Steve Fletcher, co-author of the budget-cut proposal, said that the new motion to cut $8 million from the department’s budget “represents a compromise, and also a big step forward into a more compassionate and effective public safety future.”
Meanwhile, Police chief Medaria Arradondo informed the council that the police department would need more overtime to counter the rising tide of violent crime in the city, in addition to managing the protests expected to accompany the trial of the officers involved in Floyd’s death, which is due to begin in March.
The new cuts will compound the existing $14 million cut to the Minneapolis police department budget as a result of austerity measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The police department has already been diminished by the poor conduct of its officers which led to Floyd’s death, compounded by a slew of retirements, poor morale and reported PTSD among officers involved in crowd-control operations over the summer.
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