Community group proposes contract changes to help reverse MPD’s retention woes

Community group proposes contract changes to help reverse MPD’s retention woes

Community group proposes contract changes to help reverse MPD's retention woes

At Monday’s Police and Government Oversight Committee meeting, members of Minneapolis For A Better Police Contract (MBPC) recommended changes within the Minneapolis Police Department’s labor agreements. 

It includes putting a 50-hour-per-week cap on officers and eliminating the 25% threshold for sergeant staffing requirements. 

“There’s no reason that you need one supervisor per four officers. That’s costly to the city because you pay sergeants more money, and it’s pulling officers off the street from patrol and from responding to calls,” said Chara Blanch, a member of MBPC.

Other recommendations include mandatory annual mental health screenings; returning the responsibility of discipline and termination back to the mayor rather than the police chief; and tougher eligibility requirements for field training officers by adding a definition of what a “good standing” officer means. 

“Derek Chauvin was a field training officer and was acting as a field training officer when he murdered George Floyd. And he had 32 previous complaints against him for use of force and other complaints, including four deadly force encounters,” Blanch said. “He never should have been a field training officer.”

As of today, the police department has 585 sworn officers, the lowest in decades, according to the city. Four years ago, there were over 900 sworn officers.

Chief Brian O’Hara says a recruitment team is working to reverse the current staffing trend. 

“I see the situation is not sustainable the way it is,” O’Hara said in an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last month. “I’ve been in conversations with legislators to try to change the law over who can be a cop and when.” 

In the meantime, community activists hope these recommendations will make a mark. 

“Ultimately, it is going to improve their working conditions, reduce their stress and hopefully, you know, retain those officers long-term as well,” Blanch said. 

A spokesperson for Mayor Jacob Frey provided the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:

“In the short-term, the mayor and Chief O’Hara have worked with the Hennepin County Sherriff’s office and the US Attorney’s office to add capacity, which has helped reduced violent crime. In the long-term, the mayor is working on solutions to improve recruitment and retention through pay incentives, a nearly $1 million recruiting campaign, and workforce programs that offer pathways to becoming an officer.”

Spokesperson for Mayor Jacob Frey