Minneapolis City Council cuts police department budget by $8 million

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The Minneapolis Police Department’s $179 million budget was slashed by $8 million in a unanimous vote by the city council early Thursday.

The funds will be funneled to other city services, including mental health teams and violence prevention programs, as part of an effort to “transform” public safety in the city.

“We all share a deep and abiding reverence for the role our local government plays in service of the people of our city,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “And today, there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future in Minneapolis.”

The council initially approved a proposal to chop the police department’s force to 750 officers, down from the current 888. But Frey threatened to veto the entire budget if the cap remained in place.

Members voted 7-6 to keep the cap at 888 after Frey blasted the lower number as “irresponsible.”

“Tonight the City Council passed a budget that represents a compromise, and also a big step forward into a more compassionate and effective public safety future,” said City Council member Steve Fletcher, co-author of the proposal to lower the cap on staffing.

He added that the council has more work to do and “we cannot afford to remain stuck in the past any longer.”

Frey’s budget proposal already includes a $14 million cut to the police department compared to last year’s budget, mostly due to attrition. He is hoping to hold the force, which is down by about 120 officers, to around 770 through 2021, eventually increasing it to 888.

The council’s vote comes amid the burgeoning “defund the police” movement in the country over police killings of black people — including George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis in late May.

More than 300 Minneapolis residents signed up to speak at the hearing Wednesday. Supporters of the council’s “Safety for All” plan denounced cops as cowards, gang members, white supremacists and terrorists.

“The place I grew up this summer burned,” said Will Roberts, who grew up in the Longfellow neighborhood. “And it burned because of police misconduct.”

Critics said the plan was irresponsible and that the council botched attempts at bringing change in the city.

Loraine Teel said she supported Frey’s position.

“You cannot achieve reform without a plan that includes the cooperation of those being reformed,” the resident of south Minneapolis told council members. “You have failed miserably.”

Crime in Minneapolis has surged since the death of Floyd, a black man who died while handcuffed and pinned beneath white officer Derek Chauvin’s knee.

There have been 532 gunshot victims so far this year as of last Thursday — more than double the same period a year ago.

Carjackings are also up 331 percent from the same period last year, spiking at 375 this year.

Violent crimes have surged to 5,100, compared with just over 4,000 for the same period in 2019.

Over the summer, the council initially supported a proposal to dismantle the entire police department — but those plans fell apart when a separate city commission voted against putting it on the November ballot.

With Post wires

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