Minneapolis City Council members have a new proposal to defund the police

Three members of the Minneapolis City Council who were behind the previous efforts to defund and replace the police department have put forward a new proposal. Their new plan is called “Safety for All” and seeks to cut another $8 million from the MPD budget for next year. The new proposal would lock in the lower number of officers the city is seeing in the wake of a wave of retirements and resignations since the summer. Mayor Frey has already reacted negatively to the plan:

Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham saw the mass protests following George Floyd’s death in late May as an imperative for something new…

He and council colleagues Lisa Bender and Steve Fletcher have co-written a budget plan that proposes moving about $8 million out of the police department. For context, the current budget allocated nearly $200 million to MPD…

The number of officers would be reduced to 770, the same as Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget proposal. Frey’s plan, however, allows for more officers to be added in future years, while the council members’ proposal would look to continue to decrease the amount of officers.

Frey’s spokesperson said in a statement, “The mayor would have significant concerns if his council colleagues attempted to make such large, permanent cuts without sound data or community input to support such a decision.”

Mayor Frey’s budget plan included a one-time budget cut of about $12 million but that cut was tied to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. The proposal from the group of Councilmembers would be on top of those cuts, bringing the total cut close to $20 million.

In addition, Frey anticipated having around 770 officers on the force next year because of all the resignations and retirements, but his plan still had 888 officers as the long term goal. The new plan put forward by the City Council would aim to trim the force to around 750 officers permanently. “In doing so, we save up to tens of millions of dollars over the next five years,” Cunningham, the author of the plan, said.

Saving money sounds great but doesn’t make much sense when the city is currently experiencing a spike in violent crime. As Ed pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the Police Chief is already begging the council for additional resources to try to get the wave of violence under control. The City Council did approve $500,000 to hire outside officers for the remainder of the year. But locking in a lower number of officers when the decline has coincided with a spike in violent crime seems like a pretty bad idea. A community group pushing for more police was critical of the new proposal:

Bill Rodriguez, a member of the community group MPLS Voices that is running the “Safety Now Minneapolis” campaign, said that’s the wrong approach at a time when crime is on the rise across the city…

With only a few days to digest the proposal ahead of this week’s meeting and a December vote on the budget, Rodriguez worries that the general public won’t have an opportunity to review all of the details.

“They’re throwing this out there at the eleventh hour,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s done more as an appeasement, to a certain segment of the community that has been saying defund, defund, defund … and so they’re saying, ‘we know, we’ll put this together and we’ll throw it out there now, even though we know it’s not ready for primetime.’”

So far there are only three Councilmembers on board with this plan. They’ll need a total of seven in order to pass it. Hopefully this proposal, like their plan to replace the entire police force, will go down in defeat. Here’s a local news report on the plan from KARE 11:

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