Minneapolis city councilmembers propose ‘Safety for All’ budget plan to revamp city’s public safety system

Three Minneapolis city councilmembers proposed a new ‘Safety for All’ budget plan on Friday.

Councilmembers Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Council President Lisa Bender proposed the plan, which they say will "invest in data-driven, research-backed solutions to begin the process of transforming our public safety system and to increase community safety for all," according to a release.

The plan would help reduce the Minneapolis Police Department’s burden and deliver what the release says will be "more effective and appropriate responses for people in need."

The plan calls for the movement of $7.9 million in Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed 2021 budget to help with three initiatives. It calls for providing the right response to calls for help, effectively preventing and intervening in cycles of violence and increasing resources for civilian-led police accountability.

To provide "the right response," the plan calls for investment in two sub-initiatives.

Mental health crisis response and 911 dispatch training would receive $2.44 million. This would launch a non-police 911 mental health crisis response that would respond to non-threatening calls for service. The money would also embed mental health professionals in 911 and train 911 operators to more effectively triage mental health calls and dispatch appropriate responders. The release says that while mental health calls are the third most common top-priority category of 911 calls, 80% of them are non-life-threatening and only 9% of them result in a police report. This initiative’s goal would be to cut down on the amount of calls police need to respond to and to allow them to focus on calls involving violence, the release says.

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Investing in alternative response would receive $1.49 million, which would help expand 311 capacity to take theft and property damage reports and parking complaint calls, create a non-police city staff unit to take theft and property damage reports and collect evidence, transfer parking-related call responses from 911 to 311 and provide coordinated support for people experiencing homelessness.

To help prevent and intervene in cycles of violence, the plan would invest $2.03 million to expand violence prevention programs and $1.94 million in neighborhood safety organizations.

Lastly, the plan calls for an increase in resources to civilian-led police accountability. It would take $335,000 to increase the capacity within the Civil Rights Department’s Office of Police Conduct Review and provide more oversight and accountability for proposed early intervention systems, according to the release.

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To fund this plan, it calls for a cut of $5 million in police overtime, which the plan says would be offset by the up to 15% workload that the plan would take away from the Minneapolis Police Department.

The money cut from MPD would be in addition to the $14.3 million already cut from Mayor Frey’s current 2021 budget.

The plan would still preserve Mayor Frey’s proposed 2021 MPD sworn officer staffing to 770 but would lower that number to 750 in future years.

The Mayor’s office is working with the city council to clarify what this proposal would mean to the number of officers in the MPD.

"Minneapolis can no longer afford a one-size-fits-all approach to public safety. This proposal supports our strong commitment that we will not accept violence that disproportionately harms some families and neighborhoods, that we can get to the root causes of it, and end it. It works to transform our public safety system into one that keeps everyone safe," the release says.

Details for the full plan can be read here.