Minneapolis City Council approves adding law enforcement officers for rest of 2020

Friday, the Minneapolis City Council narrowly approved a plan to add additional law enforcement personnel to help the Minneapolis Police Department for the remainder of 2020.

In a 7-6 vote, the council supported having the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit provide additional law enforcement officers to be dispatched by MPD.

The agreement will cost the city $496,800 from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.

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The decision comes ahead of public budget committee meetings set to begin Monday morning, during which time many residents are expected to weigh in on the budget proposal and its funding for public safety.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey offered his thoughts on the decision made on Friday.

“Minneapolis, like local governments across this country, is grappling with competing crises – combating a global pandemic, weathering an economic downturn, and pursuing racial justice. And at the same time, neighborhoods across our city have endured an intolerable level of gun violence and crime.

“Today we sent a clear signal that we will support Chief Arradondo and that we are ready to work collaboratively with our law enforcement partners and neighboring jurisdictions while continuing to implement concrete, transformative public safety measures.”

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Minneapolis City Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison voted no.

“When are we going to approach public safety and violence specifically with an approach that works, with an approach that is data driven,” Ellison asked.

He’s one of a majority of city council members who called to defund the Minneapolis Police Department following the death of George Floyd in May.

KSTP asked Ellison about whether there is any harm putting more people on the ground, especially after there have been more and more officers retiring.

“I think that when we have strategies that can address violence, and we don’t fund those strategies, like the proposal that we voted on from Councilmember Cunningham just weeks ago, sort of an intensified gang violence intervention strategy, that despite having council approval, we’ve put no money behind,” Ellison said. “I think that when you have plans that are written down, that we can affect today, if there was the political will to do so, then yes, I think that there is some harm in spending half a million dollars towards an effort that we know won’t have an effect on people’s safety.”

Meanwhile, former Hennepin County sheriff Richard Stanek believes it is the right thing to do.

One of the advantages you get with other agencies coming in to help police is you get a change in uniform colors," Staek said. "Sometimes those who want to do damage or commit violent crime, they’re not quite sure how a sheriff’s deputy is going to respond or how a MET transit police officer is going to respond. So it changes it up a bit, keeps everybody a little bit on edge, a little bit on guard. But they get the job done. "

But there are no formal plans put in place.

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said there are logistics to sort out first, including the hours the deputies would work, and the pay rates.

Meanwhile, Terri Dresen, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Council, released a statement saying, “The Metro Transit Police Department does not have capacity to provide additional resources to the Minneapolis Police Department, but we will continue to work collaboratively with MPD on multiple fronts ensuring the safety of our transit system and riders.”