Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said the effort to replace the Minneapolis Police Department will “not help” address the dual issues of violent crime and declining police morale.
“With violent crime up over 25% on the low end,” Stanek told WCCO Radio, “I think it was a good time to retire a couple of years ago.” He expressed his disapproval of the Minneapolis ballot initiative that seeks to “strike and replace” the police department with a new department of public safety.
This specific language was struck down by a judge who called it “vague to the point of being misleading.” The Minneapolis City Council attempted to rework the language, but it was again overturned by a judge this week. The city and the Minnesota Supreme Court, which has agreed to take up the case, are now on a short deadline to come to a resolution as early voting begins this Friday, Sept. 17.
Meanwhile, crime in Minnesota reached an all-time high in 2020, with homicides breaking the 1995 record and totaling 185. Cases of arson also rose by over 53% and motor vehicle thefts increased by 20%.
Stanek pointed out that “even the mayor of Minneapolis himself has said … ‘where am I going to find these [police officers]? How am I going to recruit them? We’re having a hard time even retaining what we’ve had.'”
“They’ve lost over 200 at least, maybe up to a third of their sworn officers. There isn’t anybody coming back in through the pipeline,” he said.
Stanek also revealed that law enforcement schools across Minnesota previously graduated 300 to 500 officers a year and are now only graduating 40 to 60 officers a year with “some of those candidates recycled from other agencies.”
Over in Brooklyn Center, the police department saw a 25% staffing decrease, with only 32 officers on active duty out of their full authorization of 49 officers. The St. Paul Police Department is also down a substantial number of officers. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s annual uniform crime report noted a 62% increase in police officer assaults in 2020.
“Who wants to be a police officer? Who in good conscience can recommend to their son or daughter, niece or nephew, neighbor that this is a field they want to get into and they have no political support whatsoever from their elected officials in the city of Minneapolis?” Stanek observed.
Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.