A Hennepin County judge struck a major blow to the defund movement Thursday when she ordered the city of Minneapolis to hire more police.
Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson said Minneapolis leaders have “failed to perform an official duty clearly imposed by law.”
Her writ of mandamus orders the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to “immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident, which will total either 730.33 sworn police officers or a number of sworn police officers equaling 0.0017 of the 2020 census population when published later this year, whichever is higher.”
The 0.0017 officers-per-resident formula is mandated by the city charter. According to Anderson’s order, Minneapolis estimates that it will have 669 sworn officers by this time next year — a projection that falls “significantly below” the required number of officers.
Minneapolis argued that it only needs 650 sworn officers, but this figure is based on the 2010 census. Anderson said a 2019 population estimate of 429,606 mandates a police force of at least 730 officers but likely more, depending on the figures in the 2020 census.
“The Court believes the City has a responsibility to keep up with projected census numbers as each 10-year period approaches. As is the case from 2010 to 2020, population in Minneapolis has increased dramatically. If the City is not proactive in anticipating what will be required of it in coming years, it will constantly be behind — constantly underperforming and, as a result, understaffing the police force,” Anderson wrote in her order.
The ruling was based on an August 2020 lawsuit filed by eight Minneapolis residents, who were represented by the Upper Midwest Law Center.
“Minneapolis is in a crisis. The city faces a violent crime rate that has skyrocketed this year. It is the responsibility of the City Council and the Mayor to make Minneapolis safe. Instead, the City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey have violated their duties to fund, employ and manage a police force as required by the City Charter,” that lawsuit said.
The Upper Midwest Law Center called the decision a “landmark victory” for the petitioners, all of whom live on the “embattled north side.”
“This is a huge victory for the petitioners and all residents of Minneapolis, especially those in the most diverse neighborhoods feeling the brunt of rising crime rates,” said Upper Midwest Law Center President Doug Seaton. “We applaud the Court’s decision and look forward to swift action by the City Council and Mayor to fund the police and ensure the safety of all Minneapolitans.”