Mayor’s budget amended to address MPD staffing challenges

Other notable amendments include community-focused violence prevention programs and examining 911 response times.

Hailee Schievelbein

Hailee Schievelbein

Mohamed Ibrahim

As it heads to a final vote, city budget amendments include recruiting a new class of officers and community-focused safety initiatives.

Following a public hearing earlier in the week, Minneapolis City Council members presented amendments at a committee meeting Friday. One of the most notable changes includes directing attention to recruitment and training of city police officers, which officials say will help address staffing challenges.

Other amendments include additional funding for violence prevention efforts and a study evaluating the efficiency of the Minneapolis Police Department’s 911 responses.

Dozens of residents and community group members went before the Council last Wednesday to voice support and concerns for various items listed within Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed 2020 budget. 

Most comments were centered around the mayor’s proposal to add 14 MPD officer positions, arguing for community-based public safety solutions over bolstering the department’s ranks.

“We know that every dollar we give to MPD is a dollar we’re not investing in actual violence prevention,” Reclaim the Block member Miriam Kelberg told Council members. “Evidence shows that [and] that’s what the people want.”

The additional officers — eight for neighborhood outreach, three for MPD’s sex crimes and domestic violence investigations unit, and three for a new traffic unit — were eliminated from the budget Friday. The nearly $1.6 million in funding will now go toward a new class of cadets, which will consist of 38 officers, according to City Council President Lisa Bender.

Frey said on Twitter that he will still direct MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo to have 14 officers fill those specific positions. The new class will keep also staffing numbers steady, council members said.

Bender said that while the Council approved 888 sworn officers last year, the department is “well below” that number. Officer numbers are not projected to increase next year due to retirements and other staffing changes, she said. 

Ongoing investment in future recruits to fill gaps rather than creating new positions is a more efficient way to approaching staffing in the department, she said.

“Investing in recruitment, not just in a one-time way but … ongoing money for additional recruit classes to fill those training gaps, is a good way to invest in our department to make sure that it’s delivering its promise to the community,” Bender said at the meeting. 

Following discussion last summer, additional funding will be used to examine the department’s 911 response times.

According to a study conducted by the International City/County Management Association Center for Public Safety, best practices recommend officers spend about 60 percent of total hours responding to 911 calls. 

MPD officers spent about 36 percent of hours responding to calls, according to Arradondo’s July staffing presentation.

Michelle Gross of advocacy group Communities United Against Police Brutality said further investment in this study is the path to improving efficiency.

“We need to make sure our police officers are doing what they’re actually supposed to do and then the problem with not having enough staffing is highly likely to go away,” Gross said.

The amended budget will go before the Council for a final vote Wednesday.