Re-fund the police? Minneapolis puts Help Wanted sign out for PD

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Defund in haste, repent at leisure. The Minneapolis city council reversed months of its own rhetoric on Friday by authorizing its police department to spend $6.4 million in an effort to add desperately needed new officers to its depleted ranks.  It’s a clear retreat from the council’s “abolish the police” position of last summer, fueled no doubt by voter outrage over spiraling crime rates, but this new authorization is a day late and millions of dollars short:

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Minneapolis will hire dozens more police officers after the City Council on Friday agreed to release $6.4 million to bring on additional recruits.

The unanimous vote came eight days after Minneapolis police requested the funding, saying they had 200 fewer police officers available to work than in most recent years. The additional funding comes at a time when some City Council members and activist groups are pushing to replace the Police Department in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Minneapolis police said they began the year with 817 officers on their payroll, 60 fewer than the previous year. But, only 638 officers are currently available to work, the department said. Some officers resigned or retired early in the year, while another 155 remain on some form of extended leave.

With the new recruit classes, the city expects it will have 674 officers available to work at the end of the year, and another 28 working their way through the hiring process at that time.

First off, the money might not even be the problem at the moment. Which young men and women looking for a career in law enforcement would bother with Minneapolis? Even apart from its reputational issues now, it’s undermanned and despised on the streets of the city. The city council still wants to dismantle it as soon as they can figure out how to do it. In fact, as both the Star Tribune and Fox News notes, three of the council members are still insisting that the department will be downsized and de-emphasized:

Days before the City Council vote, Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo promised to update the application process for police recruits to include questions about whether they have lived in Minneapolis, have degrees in criminology, social work, psychology or counseling, and whether they volunteer or participate in programs such as the Police Activities League.

Meanwhile, three City Council members have proposed replacing the police department with a public safety department that would include law enforcement and other services. Yes 4 Minneapolis, a coalition of local community groups, is also collecting signatures to try to get a similar proposal on the November ballot.

WCCO’s video report also included the Y4M effort, although their position seems to be closer to the city council’s prior “abolish the police” policy. So who wants to come to work for the Minneapolis PD with this kind of hostility toward its very existence? The better recruits would look to other cities, leaving Minneapolis with either the lesser candidates or a group of men and women who lack long-range thinking.

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The money authorized is yet another problem. It might look like a step in the right direction, but it’s so low that it can’t mean anything than a short-term fig leaf for the council. They’re basically setting Arradondo up to fail; look, we gave them room to hire new recruits, they’ll say, and the problems didn’t get any better. The Minneapolis PD needs at least a hundred or more new recruits and a city council that takes responsibility for policing in the city before it can succeed. Three dozen doesn’t even get them to the level of active sworn officers required by the city charter, a point being made in court by residents suing the council over their abolish-the-police policies.

This decision is nothing more than a PR stunt from a clown-show council. Its only real value is in the way it will disillusion the activists pushing these council members, which might — might — help them get defeated in their next elections. At least that would give the city a chance at electing serious people to this council … for a change.

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