The Minneapolis city council passed a budget bill that cut the police funding by 8 percent, directing the money toward mental health and violence prevention programs.
But they also kept in place plans to hire more officers in the future. And the cuts didn’t take officers off the streets.
Minneapolis is in the midst of a serious crime wave following the riots and unrest from last summer that were triggered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers. Radicals on the city council wanted to reduce the number of officers currently on the street and even eliminate the police department entirely.
But Mayor Jacob Frey, who postured like a radical until it became clear they wanted to hand the city over to rioters, threatened to veto such a measure. The budget narrowly passed the council 7-6.
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 whether they should leave the department mostly intact while building out new services, or cut the department to fund them.
While the city is seeking to change its public safety system, it is also experiencing a crime wave that includes more than 500 shootings.
In truth, the police department will be on a very short leash.
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 City Council in votes next year.
Earlier this year, the council enthusiastically embraced a plan to totally dismantle the police force and replace it with unarmed social workers and mental health professionals. That plan failed when the city charter commission ruled that the issue would not go before the voters in 2020 in a referendum.
So the radicals aren’t done — not by a long shot. One wonders how successful they might have been if Minneapolis hadn’t become worse than Dodge City on a Saturday night.
According to police data, more than 500 people have been shot in Minneapolis this year – twice as many as 2019. Murders are up more than 50%. There have also been nearly 5,000 violent crimes, the highest level in the past five years.
And though the widespread riots may have subsided temporarily, there is the potential for more unrest in the new year. The four officers who are facing charges in Floyd’s death will stand trial starting March 8.
I can see the potential value of mental health professionals riding along with police on some calls. But sending out “conflict resolution experts” to deal with a screaming addict waving a gun in an officer’s direction? Perhaps some of those city council members should do a ride-along with police and see what they have to deal with day in and day out.