Lawsuit over MPD staffing levels dismissed

After a back-and-forth legal battle that spanned more than two years, a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis over its police staffing levels has been dismissed.

A Hennepin County judge agreed to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice Monday, meaning it could be refiled later.

The lawsuit was first filed in August 2020 by a group of Minneapolis residents who argued the city charter was being violated by the city not having enough officers to meet the per capita requirement.

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In July 2021, a Hennepin County judge ordered the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to hire more police officers. However, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in March that the charter only compelled the council to fund a police force up to the per capita requirement — which comes to 730 officers currently — and doesn’t impose a clear duty for the mayor to employ that many officers.

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The case was appealed up to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which released its opinion in August that the mayor does have a clear legal duty to employ the number of officers outlined by the per capita requirement. However, it remanded the case to the district court to determine whether there was adequate cause for the city’s inability to reach 730 officers.

Frey’s office has said, despite the court proceedings, the city is working to hire more police officers and build up the police force, which lost nearly 300 officers after the murder of George Floyd. At the end of May 2022, the city said it had 621 sworn officers. Frey also said two weeks ago that the city has a million-dollar police recruiting effort planned to roll out in the coming months.