MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Six months after the death of George Floyd, city officials remain divided on their approach to police funding in Minneapolis.
On Friday, three Minneapolis City Council members unveiled their “Safety for All Budget Plan,” which would cut $8 million from Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed 2021 police budget. Penned by Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher, and Council President Lisa Bender, the plan outlines methods for providing appropriate responses for calls, intervening in cycles of violence, and increasing resources for civilian-led police accountability.
It also cuts the number of officers to 770 for 2021, with a plan to decrease the number to 750 in future years. Frey’s proposal, on the other hand, calls for 888 sworn officers for 2021, an already reduced number due to a city-wide hiring freeze. However, his plan allows for more officers to be added in future years.
“The mayor would have significant concerns if his council colleagues attempted to make such large, permanent cuts to the number of officers in the department without sound data or community input to support such a decision,” a spokesperson from Frey’s office said in a statement.
Cunningham has said that his proposed plan builds on work by the Office of Violence Prevention and the MPD/911 workgroup.
The “Safety for All” plan aims to take 15% of the workload away from MPD, partly by having other agencies respond to certain crimes. It will also cut $5 million in police overtime. As part of the plan, $2.44 million would go towards mental health crisis response training, with another $1.49 million designated for expanding 311 calls to take theft and property damage reports.
Violence prevention programs would see another $2 million, while $1.94 million would be focused on funding restorative justice and de-escalation training for neighborhood organizations.
The plan also puts $335,000 towards police accountability, increasing the capacity within the Civil Rights Department’s Office of Police Conduct Review to investigate complaints about police officer behavior.
Frey’s office, however, has said that his proposal lays the groundwork for “new, alternative responses to low level offenses like theft reports and parking problems.”
In his plan, the Office of Violence Prevention’s violence interruption model would see $2.5 million in ongoing funding. Three full-time staff could be moved from the police department to other agencies to provide non-police response for low level offenses. There would also be a 50% increase in funding for the mental health co-responder program.
Over the summer, nine of the thirteen Minneapolis city council members pledged to “defund police.” However, several have since walked back on their claims; a proposal to give the MPD an additional $500,000 narrowly passed with a 7-6 vote in mid-November.
The city’s budget discussions will continue next week.
Source: CBS Minnesota