Minneapolis losing police officers faster than they can hire, chief calls it ‘unsustainable’

Minneapolis tackling police officer shortage

Minneapolis tackling police officer shortage

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS looked at city payroll records and found between 2020 and 2022, the Minneapolis Police Department had 273 officers leave their jobs.  

During that same three-year time period, the city hired 117 new officers, which equates to a net loss of 156 officers and an average net loss of 52 officers over the last three years.

If that trend were to continue, MPD would have fewer than 400 sworn officers. As recent as 2019, MPD had about 900 sworn officers on its payroll.

MPD Chief, Brian O’Hara, told KSTP he’s organized a recruiting team to aggressively reverse the current trend of officers leaving the department in high numbers.

“Well, I see the situation as not sustainable the way it is,” said O’Hara. “And, it’s difficult because the cops who are here, together with all our law enforcement partners, are making incredible progress.”

O’Hara said the city also is offering new recruits a paid college education if they apply with MPD.

“That is something we are trying to promote as much as possible and get the word out. It’s something that we think that could potentially change the course of some kids’ lives in our city,” said O’Hara.

And, the chief said his recruiting team is spreading out to areas across the country looking for new officers.

“They’re going to be expanding to visiting military installations around the country because there’s currently a pathway for military police to come on and become police officers in Minnesota,” said O’Hara.

Minneapolis City Council member, LaTrisha Vetaw, chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee. She told KSTP the idea of paying substantial bonuses to new recruits, and to retain current officers is something that should seriously be considered.

“All the major cities who’ve had a decline in officers, and are dealing with what we’re dealing with, they’ve got big bonuses,” said Vetaw. “It’s up to $75,000 in some cities. I think it’s L.A. that’s doing $75,000 signing bonuses. We have to do it. We have to look at it.”

Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, was not available for an interview, but a spokesperson in his office issued the following statement:

“Mayor Frey has consistently pushed to build both community trust and the MPD ranks by recruiting community-oriented officers. That commitment has been cemented through policy reforms and centered in his budget proposals. We are leaving no stone unturned to get and retain officers who reflect our city’s values. In 2022, the mayor invested $7 million in federal ARPA funds for recruitment, retention, and hiring support with over $1 million dedicated to MPD-specific outreach and recruitment. HR is currently in the process of onboarding a firm that will lead a new MPD (and 911) marketing/recruitment campaign for the City.”