Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey did not mince words Monday evening as he took a stand against those who seek to defund the police in his city.
Frey candidly shot down a plan some City Council members unveiled late last week to cut funding of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) by $7.9 million. The plan, named “Safety for All,” was authored by Council Members Phillipe Cunningham and Steve Fletcher, and Council President Lisa Bender.
“The proposal to reduce the sworn capacity of our department from 888 officers to 750 officers is irresponsible. It’s irresponsible and untenable, especially given what we are presently experiencing now in this city,” the mayor said at a press conference.
“If the goal [of the council’s plan] is simply to dramatically reduce the number of police officers we have and hamstring our chief, no, I cannot sign onto that,” Frey explained.
He then addressed the council’s preemptive disregard for an external study of the police department that is currently being conducted.
“We all agreed to move forward with a third-party, neutral study” that would define how the MPD is treated in the future, the mayor reminded his audience. “Let’s use the data, let’s listen to the experts, let’s do right by our community and make sure we know what we’re talking about.”
“Why are we going to pay for an analysis that we’re ultimately not going to listen to? Why are we waiting for data that we’re not going to use?” he asked.
He also tacitly suggested that the council has disregarded how Minneapolis residents feel about law enforcement in their city.
“We all signed on to a year-long community engagement process … I don’t think it’s fair to go through a whole process of fake engagement where we’ve already presupposed the outcome,” Frey said, referencing an ongoing engagement initiative with city residents that has revealed a desire for more law enforcement.
“Let’s listen to our community, and let’s ultimately do right by them,” Frey implored the council.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo seconded the mayor moments after he left the podium. City residents “are not saying they want less public safety, they are saying they want more,” the chief stated.
Frey also stood behind Arradondo’s performance as chief, citing his “30 years of experience in this police department.” Minneapolis “should be giving great credence to our chief,” the mayor said. “He’s telling us what we need … we don’t need to agree with him 100% of the time, but we should listen.”
Not long after the mayor’s press conference, Council Member Cunningham retweeted a post in response to the mayor’s suggestion that the “Safety for All” plan lacked community engagement.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar also threw her support behind the council’s plan after the mayor said he opposes it. She claimed that those who don’t want to cut police funding peddle “fear-driven narratives” in a Twitter post Monday night.
Don't fall for the fear-driven narratives.
We can craft a justice system that prioritizes people’s basic needs like mental health + violence prevention, & allow the city to put public safety first.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 30, 2020