Brooklyn Center considers police reform and budget cuts

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At a Tuesday night meeting, the Brooklyn Center City Council discussed possible police reform measures as well as potential spending cuts for the Brooklyn Center Police Department.

Brooklyn Center City Manager Reggie Edwards told City Council members they should support the funding and implementation of newly proposed strategic public safety practices heading into the final deliberations and December vote on the city’s proposed $100 million 2022 budget.

"Those strategies include things such as unarmed personnel for non-motorized traffic offenses, unarmed mental health and social work practitioners addressing 911 calls for mental health and social help," Edwards said. "And there are other things such as issuing citations and summons instead of arrests for some misdemeanor offenses."

Edwards also said the City Council should possibly consider cutting the $10 million Brooklyn Center Police Department by approximately 10% by not filling police jobs that are currently unfilled.

"We have 14 positions that are vacant currently in the police department, and what’s the impact of moving those positions and taking that $1.2 million or $1.3 million and utilizing it elsewhere?" Edwards said.

Jim Mortenson, the executive director of Law Enforcement Legal Services, the union representing Brooklyn Center police officers, said it would be counterproductive and shortsighted to eliminate what he claims is a 30% reduction in the Brooklyn Center police force.

"The harsh reality is that violent crime in Brooklyn Center went up in 2020, and it’s continuing to go up this year," Mortenson said. "So with more police calls coming in for officers to handle, it does not make a lot of sense to propose defunding the department right now."

Mortenson said residents and businesses in Brooklyn Center should be aware of the possibility that their police department could face budget cuts next year and speak out publicly about the proposal.

"If this passes, they’re going to be repeatedly victimized because you’re just not going to have an adequate supply of law enforcement to handle calls for service," Mortenson said.

The Brooklyn Center City Council is expected to act on these proposals on Monday.