Minneapolis City Council president on more police officers: 'It’s too early to draw any lines in the sand'

Updated: July 30, 2019 06:27 PM

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender is scheduled to sit down with Mayor Jacob Frey for their first one-on-one meeting later this week to discuss next year’s budget, which includes funding the police department.

Bender met with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Tuesday to share her thoughts on Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s request to nearly double the police force in five years.

"I was surprised by the change in tone at the presentation the Chief gave a week ago,” Bender said. “Because just in May we heard a lot of great results from the department — crime is down, per capita crime is down."

But when summer hit, MPD said there has been an increase in crime, putting the yearly total up 10 percent.

RELATED: Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo: 'I need 1,000 officers by 2025'

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Eric Chaloux asked Bender if she feels adding more officers to the street is the solution.

"I think it's too early to draw any lines in the sand about specific numbers (of officers)," Bender said.

City records also show from late July 2018 to June of this year, MDP did not have enough officers to immediately respond to 6,776 calls for service, a reason the chief said he needs more officers.

"When a person picks up the phone to call 911, those are the officers that will be responding for them," said Chief Arradondo after a July 17th city council meeting.

Bender said council staff is studying 911 data to see how police responded to certain calls, to see if other city resources could be used instead to free up officers for emergencies.

"I know we're getting great results in our investments in violence prevention and we are looking at ways we can build on mental health co-responders, and other ways to respond to 911 calls," Bender said. She wants to examine a holistic approach to crime prevention. "We have been looking to improve our approach to public safety in Minneapolis.”

The council staff 911 police report is slated to be completed by later in the fall.

RELATED: MPD set to request more money for technology to make up for staffing shortage

Bender said the council needs to hear more data from other city departments before determining the police budget.

"I need to weigh it versus all of our other priorities," Bender said.

Bender later said it will cost the city about $60 million annually above what it already spends on the police department to meet the Chief's request.

Mayor Jacob Frey will request in his budget letter to the council on August 15th for additional officers according to his office, but a set number has not been determined.

Chief Arradondo will go before the city council on Wednesday to continue discussions about department funding.

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Eric Chaloux

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