Minneapolis allots $16M for police reform in 2024 budget to comply with court order
Money will go toward hiring 34 new police oversight workers, including lawyers, trainers and counselors
By Dave Orrick
MINNEAPOLIS — The dollars, cents and people required to remake policing in Minneapolis are coming into focus.
On Monday, the City Council formally took up Mayor Jacob Frey's proposed 2024 budget. It's the first spending plan that pins taxpayer costs to the specific jobs required to comply with court orders to end racist and unconstitutional policing.
Big picture: It will cost $16 million next year and $11 million the year after — and millions more annually for years to come.
Specifically, the mayor's proposal calls for $7.6 million in 2024 and 34 full-time positions across four city departments. That's all new spending and new positions. It's lawyers, IT people, workers to pore over body-worn camera footage, counselors for cops, trainers for cops, trainers for trainers and a bunch of overtime.
Those are hardly the only costs associated with the effort, which will be largely prescribed by a court-approved settlement with the state Department of Human Rights and an anticipated court-approved consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice that has yet to emerge.
The city has set aside $8.4 million in a reserve fund for public safety reform, much of which could pay for changes not specifically required by court orders but supported by the city.
Other costs, yet to be detailed, will include one-time expenditures such as computers, computer software, contracts with outside experts and office space. Also: a $1.5 million budget for the salary and possibly staff for someone — a yet to be named "independent evaluator" or "monitor" — expected to monitor everything on behalf of both the federal and state courts to make sure Minneapolis is following through.
By the end of this year, the city will have already spent close to $5 million in 2022 and 2023 toward some of those costs. But the spending will now come at a faster clip.
The $7.6 million proposed for next year includes costs that, if ultimately adopted by the council, will likely ensure close to $6 million in new annual spending for years to come.
"Change isn't cheap," Frey said in announcing his budget last month. "And change isn't optional."
In other words, whether you call it police reform or compliance with a court order, much of the work is strictly prescribed.
Here's a look at some of those costs, and the positions they'll create.
The biggest concentration of manpower toward the effort will be borne by the Police Department, which is forming a 28-member "implementation team."
These aren't cops with guns walking a beat, but rather an array of workers with specialized tasks — and workloads that can't be absorbed within existing staffing, which is already well below required levels, police officials say.
"Most of the titles here are self-explanatory," Assistant Police Chief Chris Gaiters told the City Council Budget Committee Monday.
Five "subject matter experts" for each of the following: Use of force, search and seizure, accountability and oversight, officer wellness and officer training.Two internal affairs analysts specifically to review police body cameras.A "civilian training director" to ensure that these new civilians working in the Police Department understand the department's policies and other aspects of working for the police but not being a sworn officer.A "use of force training civilian supervisor," whose charge is to ensure that civilians who review officer conduct are consistent as their ranks turn over — and also understand "comprehensive defensive tactics" that will be allowed.Four variously titled "data scientists" and "data analysts," three "compliance" workers and one IT liaison, whose duties will include creating, maintaining and auditing what will amount to a database of various aspects of the court orders — a checklist of scores of changes that must be completed.
For perspective, the entire Police Department proposed 2024 budget is about $218 million.
One position, plus contracts
Taking all the data the Police Department collects, plus collecting more data, and analyzing it all to ensure, for example, that force isn't being used disproportionately against suspects based solely on race requires IT support.
Will the department's existing software even work for that sort of thing?
"We really just won't know until we complete the assessment," Chief Information Officer Paul Cameron said Monday, referring to one of the first IT tasks: hiring an outside firm to answer the question.
The IT department's proposal also includes hiring one new worker with a $117,000 annual starting salary and likely calling on existing personnel to shoulder some of the work.
Investigations into police conduct need to move faster, according to the settlement agreement between the city and the state Department of Human Rights. The proposed solution: hire three more "case investigators" at an average annual starting salary of $81,000 in the Police Conduct Review Division of the city's Civil Rights Department.
Ultimately, complying with court orders is a legal requirement. Three city attorneys are working on it, but two more are needed at an average starting salary of $137,000.