Amid push for bonuses to fix MPD staffing, trends in Seattle put the strategy in question

Amid push for bonuses to fix MPD staffing, trends in Seattle put the strategy in question

Amid push for bonuses to fix MPD staffing, trends in Seattle put the strategy in question

The embattled plan to implement incentives for new and existing Minneapolis police officers is set to face another challenge.

Following pushback on the more than $15 million agreement between the city and the union that represents the officers, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for a special City Council meeting, set for Friday afternoon.

The plan offers $15,000 for new Minneapolis police officers and $18,000 for current officers, paid out over a two-and-half-year period. But just days after the mayor and chief of police showed their support for the plan and outlined details publicly, the Minneapolis City Council Budget Committee voted against even adding it to their agenda.

The committee’s chair, Council Member Emily Koski, felt it was sprung on them too quickly and said there are better ways to address the issue.

“We’re not going to fix these issues by throwing money at them,” Koski said.

Police Chief Brian O’Hara, though, had suggested the figures agreed upon in Minneapolis are modest compared to other cities that have taken similar steps.

“I’ve spoken to the chief of Seattle about this a number of times, they’ve done 30,000 for recruitment, and retention, and they actually wish they had done some more,” O’Hara said.

Koski, during the budget meeting, pushed back against that, pointing to a KOMO-TV story from October, highlighting how Seattle’s recruitment and retention incentive plan has gone since its rollout last summer.

Seattle, like Minneapolis, has lost hundreds of police officers in the past few years.

According to City of Seattle documents obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, in the first year of offering incentives, the police department hired 72 officers — but in that same timeframe, 121 left the department.

Working and finding ways to fill a law enforcement agency is far from a Minneapolis issue, leading to an extremely competitive job market in the industry, according to Minnesota’s largest public safety labor union, Law Enforcement Labor Services.

“Right now we’re down over 1,000 officers in the state of Minnesota,” LELS Executive Director Jim Mortenson said. “You’ve got officers that are going from one agency to another because [of] the financial incentives.”

He adds the supply is not keeping up with demand.

“We don’t have enough people coming out of high school into college and coming into the profession,” Mortenson said. “You’re going to have to throw money at the problem because you’re going to have to incentivize this for people to come into the profession in some way.”

The Minneapolis City Council is expected to take up a vote on the proposed incentives during Friday’s special meeting.