Minneapolis City Council approves initial cuts to police department

The Minneapolis Police Department has been under intense scrutiny since the death of George Floyd back in May.

On Friday, Minneapolis City Council members voted on their first cuts, trimming more than $1.5 million of the department’s nearly $200 million initial budget for the year. Most of that money will be funneled into the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention, which is part of the city’s health department.

"The cost will largely go to hiring staff, so they’ll be consultants working through non-profits, and other organizations […] It’s about interrupting those patterns of violence," said Sasha Cotton, Director of the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention. "We do want to have a sizable group of people in many neighborhoods on a pretty regular basis to get to know those neighborhoods better learning to better understand conflicts."

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Cotton said specifics on staffing are still being worked out. But in some cases, Cotton said staff will respond to emergency calls, like shootings.

"This is not an armed group. These will be unarmed community outreach workers who will be trained in de-escalation and conflict resolution and mediation, along with CPR and first aid," said Cotton.

City staff and some council members said they’ve been in talks with a Chicago-based nonprofit called "Cure Violence" about different crime prevention models they can use with the allocated money.

"One of the great things about the public health approach to safety is that it actually provides opportunities, economic opportunities, for folks that are typically locked out of economic opportunities — so folks with criminal records, folks who maybe don’t have a high level of education but they have tremendous skills," said Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis City Council member. "I will also just add, that this cut should not actually be impacting the number of sworn officers, because this amount of money is coming from the fact that we had allocated to the police for 888 sworn officers, and we’re nowhere near that amount."

Minneapolis Mayor Frey issued the following statement to KSTP:

"I wholeheartedly support stepping up our investments in violence prevention work, including the Cure Violence model, and am working to implement the strategy in a more comprehensive way for next year and beyond. But I am disappointed by the decision to fund it by cutting Chief Arradondo’s budget without consulting him.

Minneapolis residents and families should expect to see their officials moving forward deliberately and collaboratively to improve public safety."