Minneapolis City Council members question plan for outside police help
Minneapolis moved closer Tuesday to bringing in outside law enforcement to help tamp down on violence in the city, following an impassioned plea from the police chief
By Liz Navratil
MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis moved one step closer Tuesday to bringing in outside law enforcement officers to help the city, following an impassioned plea from the police chief and a tense confrontation with council members.
City officials will make a final decision Friday about whether to allow the chief to bring in officers from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit Police. While many of the details of the contracts are still being finalized, police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he envisions some of the extra officers would help respond to 911 calls and others could work on specialized assignments designed to help in areas struggling the most.
“Resources are hemorrhaging. Our city is bleeding at this moment. I’m trying to do all I can to stop that bleeding,” the chief said.
While Arradondo could normally work with city attorneys to make such aid arrangements himself, this proposal requires almost $497,000 in additional money, which would come out of the city’s contingency fund. That requires approval from the City Council.
Multiple council members asked Arradondo for details on how he had spent the roughly $185 million in his department’s budget, saying they were not satisfied with the city’s current police service and wanted to know how this additional money would help stop violent crime.
Council Member Steve Fletcher said he had a “really hard time” understanding how the police department had spent its budget, “because it just seemed like it didn’t go into producing the outcomes that we would have expected.”
Arradondo pushed back hard.
“I have 74 people who are no longer alive in this city because they’ve been killed. I’ve got almost 500 people who have been shot and wounded in the city. We can go back and forth on the $185 million but that is not stopping the bloodshed that is occurring every day in our city,” the chief said.
He noted that roughly 90% of the department’s budget goes toward paying officers’ salaries and benefits, so “it’s not like I’m sitting on a treasure chest of an exuberant amount of money that’s not being used.”
He added: “I’ve been doing this job for three decades. I’m coming to you saying that we need these extra resources.”
Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, who said he shared the concerns about how MPD had spent its budget, said he thought it was “insincere” to frame the discussion as if council members who opposed the extra patrols didn’t care about crime victims.
“What I’m hearing is that we don’t have to put together a strategy. We don’t have to put together a plan. We don’t need to provide any budget transparency, shut up and pay us. Shut up and feed the beast,” he said.
The proposal advanced out of the council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee on a 7-6 vote. The full council will consider the measure Friday.
Voting in favor of the proposal were Council Members Kevin Reich, Jamal Osman, Lisa Goodman, Alondra Cano, Andrew Johnson, Linea Palmisano and Andrea Jenkins.
Voting against it were Fletcher, Ellison, Cam Gordon, Phillipe Cunningham, Lisa Bender and Jeremy Schroeder.
(c)2020 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)