Minneapolis council narrowly approves $500G to hire outside police forces, highlighting rift among officials

Minneapolis City Council votes on request for more funds to hire police from outside agencies

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Minneapolis city council members voted Friday to narrowly approve nearly $500,000 in additional funds for the city’s police department to go toward the hiring of 20 to 40 officers from outside police forces.

City council members voted 7 to 6 to approve the $496,800 in funding for Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) to bring in personnel from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department and Metropolitan Council/Metro Transit Police, despite a reported history of disagreements between police and city officials over whether doing so would be an appropriate use of the money.

An MPD spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. 

The nearly half-million dollars will allow MPD to afford the contracts, which are set to take effect on Nov. 15 and extend through the end of the year. But the proposal was not well-received by all.

Earlier this week, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and members of the City Council's Policy & Government Oversight Committee sparred over the lack of resources available to the department as it grapples with short-staffing and high crime.

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE, CITY OFFICIALS CLASH OVER NEED FOR FUNDING FOR OUTSIDE FORCES

"Resources are hemorrhaging. Our city is bleeding at this moment. I'm trying to do all I can to stop that bleeding," Arradondo said during Tuesday’s meeting, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 

More than 70 people have been murdered so far this year, police statistics show. According to the Tribune, about 500 have been shot since the start of 2020, and the number of shootings and murders has reached the highest it's been in 15 years, if not more. 

Arradondo said during the meeting that 90% of the police department’s pre-existing $185 million was used to pay officers' salaries.

The city’s top cop said in mid-October that the department was down an estimated 130 officers compared with the same time last year, and he expected more departures by year’s end. A lawyer helping officers file for disability leave said at the time he’d helped process about 175 claims since Floyd’s death, according to the Associated Press.

But council member Steve Fletcher fired back that MPD had not adequately addressed the violent crime surge or carjackings, even though the department slashed other policing measures to allocate resources to those more pressing concerns, according to the Tribune. 

"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,” Arradondo reportedly said. "If you choose to say no to these victims of crime, then please stand by that.”

MINNEAPOLIS EYEING OUTSIDE POLICE TO HELP WITH VIOLENT CRIME, OFFICER SHORTAGE: REPORT

Minneapolis Police Department has been under a microscope in the wake of the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died after former officer Derek Chauvin, who is White, allegedly pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes. His death sparked a renewed sense of outrage over the deaths of Black people at the hands of police. Chauvin and three others were charged in Floyd’s death and are expected to stand trial in state court in March.

Floyd’s death prompted calls for overhauling or defunding police departments nationwide. In Minneapolis, a majority of city council members pledged to dismantle the department, but a city commission ultimately blocked the effort to put the issue before voters during the November election.

Minneapolis Council President Lisa Bender tweeted in June that they would “dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.”

On Friday, Bender voted against the extra money for outside police forces.

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Arradondo and Frey, a Democrat who opposed abolishing the department, have continued to make incremental changes to the agency’s culture, including banning chokeholds and updating the use of force policy.

Fox News’ Garrett Tenney and Matt Finn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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