(The Center Square) – In a 7-6 Friday vote, the Minneapolis City Council approved a plan to spend roughly $500,000 to temporarily hire outside police officers to combat a wave of violent crime.
The plan would support between 20 and 40 additional officers from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit Police to respond to violent 911 calls through Dec. 31. The plan carries an approximate price tag of $500,000.
The city has tallied roughly 74 homicides in the first 10-plus months of 2020, the Star Tribune reported, outpacing 48 homicides in 2019.
Nearly 500 people have been shot this year. More than 100 officers have left the department in 2020, more than double the typical average.
Earlier this year, eight Minneapolis residents sued the city council and Mayor Jacob Frey, claiming they are violating the City Charter requirement to fund a minimum Minneapolis Police Department force of 0.0017 employees per resident or roughly 730 officers.
On Tuesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, a 30-year veteran, stressed the department requires extra resources to stop a mounting violent crime wave.
“Our city is bleeding at this moment,” Arradondo said. “I’m trying to do all I can to stop that bleeding.”
He continued: “I’ve got almost 500 people who’ve been shot and wounded in this city … We can go back and forth on the $185 million [budget], but that isn’t stopping the bloodshed that’s occurring every day in our city.”
The proposal, which has brought heated discussions this week, divided the council.
Council Members Alondra Cano, Andrea Jenkins, Andrew Johnson, Kevin Reich, Jamal Osman, Lisa Goodman and Linea Palmisano supported the measure.
Voting against it were Cam Gordon, Jeremiah Ellison, Jeremy Schroeder, Lisa Bender, Phillipe Cunningham and Steve Fletcher.
Fletcher was skeptical of any change $500,000 would make when officers have already been targeting violent crime.
“So, we’re going to take a thing that has not been working very well and has not been addressing carjackings, has not been addressing the rise in violent crime … and say if we just do 5% more of it, that will get us to a better place,” Fletcher told Arradondo Tuesday. “I’m struggling to get my head around why that is a good idea.”
About 90% of the $185 million budget is salaries and benefits, Arradondo said, and he’s not sitting “on a treasure chest.”
“If you choose to say no to these victims of crime, then please stand by that,” Arradondo responded. “I’m saying we need more resources today, and right now.”
The proposal now heads to Mayor Frey, who celebrated the vote.
“Minneapolis, like local governments across this country, is grappling with competing crises – combating a global pandemic, weathering an economic downturn, and pursuing racial justice. And at the same time, neighborhoods across our city have endured an intolerable level of gun violence and crime,” Mayor Frey said in a statement post-vote.
“Today we sent a clear signal that Chief Arradondo has our support and that we are ready to work collaboratively with our law enforcement partners while continuing to implement concrete, transformative public safety measures.”