Mpls. plans to add 60 police officers to a strained force

The new hires will help 2nd Precinct residents and University police.

by Elizabeth Cook

The Minneapolis Police Department will get 60 new police officers as part of Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak’s 2006 budget, Rybak announced last week.

Twelve of the new officers will be in the 2nd Precinct, which includes the University and the nearby neighborhoods of Marcy-Holmes and Como.

According to a press release, the new officers will be funded through a combination of partially restored local government aid from the state along with the city revenue earned through Rybak’s commitment to paying down debt in previous budgets.

Jeremy Hanson, Rybak’s spokesman, said as many as 20 of the new police officers will be hired by Aug. 1.

The rest of the 60 hires will happen throughout the calendar year, and all will be hired by next spring or summer, Hanson said.

Ron Reier, Minneapolis police spokesman, said having the new hires will be “fantastic.”

“It’s going to help us out in a big way Ö any officer we can get will help us,” he said.

Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department, said new hires will help the University police.

The 2nd Precinct is very short staffed, Johnson said, and the University Police Department often has to help the 2nd Precinct by responding to calls outside its normal jurisdiction.

At a recent public meeting, 2nd Precinct residents complained of slow police responses.

James De Sota, a Southeast Como Improvement Association staff member, said seven officers will be restored to the Stop Unit, a task force that looks at most violent crimes in Minneapolis, which is another concern 2nd Precinct residents have.

De Sota said he hopes that with more patrols on the streets, the response time will improve.