Minneapolis patrol officers down by more than half

The Minneapolis Police Department only has 268 patrol officers, spread across five precincts and three shifts.

Minneapolis police respond to the scene of a robbery in early November. (Kyle Hooten/Alpha News)

The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has fewer than 270 officers who can patrol the streets.

“There are 268 officers in 911 patrol right now,” a source told Alpha News on Saturday, noting that this number doesn’t include officers who are in field training. “Those 268 are spread out between the five precincts and then further spread out between the three shifts,” the source added. “We continue to lose people weekly.”

Inspector Charlie Adams, who is in charge of policing in the Fourth Precinct, said last Monday that there were 284 patrol officers in the city. That number appears to include officers who are in field training and the number seems to be changing every day.

“We’re losing one every day,” he said. “I can’t police North Side with that low number.”

The low numbers of police aren’t due to a lack of hiring efforts. The city is presently under a court order to hire more police. However, this is proving to be a difficult task. Even Mayor Jacob Frey admitted “this is a heavy lift.”

“What the department is hiring and what’s in training is not keeping up with the number we are losing,” the source added.

Prior to the George Floyd riots, Minneapolis had about 600 patrol officers. The number has reportedly been stuck below 300 since last August.

Minnesota Republicans are pushing to incentivize potential recruits with a $65 million plan that will offer bonuses and debt relief to new hires not only in Minneapolis but across the state. The effort is called the “Creating Opportunities in Public Safety” program — or C.O.P.S. for short.

“We are facing a crisis in the number of licensed officers available in Minnesota to even apply for the job openings we have,” Sen. John Jasinski remarked as the new plan was announced.

“Being a cop is a tough job, and with the anti-police rhetoric of the last couple years it’s no surprise that folks aren’t exactly clamoring to become officers — especially with the schooling required just to get their foot in the door,” added Sen. Roger Chamberlain, commenting on the program’s proposal to repay officers for the schooling necessary to become a police officer.

Meanwhile, public safety advocate Crime Watch Minneapolis observed that “our system is not working” on a level much larger than the police department. Even when the understaffed MPD catches a criminal, the odds that criminal will be rapidly released to reoffend are very high, Crime Watch said. “People are being more and more victimized by this lax criminal justice system.”