The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has not met his legal duty to hire more police officers or demonstrate why he hasn't done so.
Chief Justice Lorie Gildea stated Monday that Frey has a "clear legal duty" under the city's charter to staff the department with "at least 731 sworn officers," an estimate based on the city's population, according to court documents.
As of June 4, MPD employs 626 officers, 39 of them on continuous leave, a city official said.
Interim City Attorney Peter Ginder told Bring Me The News the city has about 300 fewer officers than it did before George Floyd was killed by police in May 2020. Mass resignations and retirements followed the civil unrest, with former MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo citing disability claims and post traumatic stress disorder associated with the civil unrest as reasons for approximately one-third of the police force.
Actions of police officers and other law enforcement, including the State Patrol and the National Guard, came under heavy criticism amid and following the unrest, including allegations of a deliberate pull back by some officers as crime surged in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights found probable cause that the department, along with the city, had engaged in an "illegal pattern or practice or race discrimination."
In 2021, a judgment in Hennepin County ordered the city to hire more officers to fund a police force "of at least 0.0017 employees per resident," or 731 officers, as required by the charter. But in March, the Court of Appeals said the city's charter only required the council to fund 731 officers (which is already happening) and it didn't require Frey to employ that many.
The ruling states that the city's charter update in 2013 didn't officially make any substantive changes to the mayor's powers. Consequently, under state law, the charter language used prior to that must be used and that language "makes clear that the Mayor must establish and maintain a police force at the 0.0017 ratio."
However, the judge noted that the court can't control how the mayor uses his discretion to hire the necessary number of officers.
Residents who filed the lawsuit blamed a lack of officers for the increase in crime.
The Minnesota Reformer reports that the remaining cops at the department have worked overtime due to the shortage and roughly 75% of officers in Minneapolis are making six figures.
Ginder provided the following statement on the ruling to Bring Me The News:
We are still reviewing the full impact of this order and will be prepared to appear in district court.
Over the last two years, the Minneapolis Police Department has lost almost 300 peace officers. This is an unprecedented loss of personnel that is not easily corrected.
Mayor Jacob Frey, the Minneapolis Police Department, and City are working in good faith to recruit and hire more community oriented peace officers as quickly as reasonably possible. From additional funding for recruit classes and officer wellness programming to hiring bonuses, the City is continuing to work to rebuild the police force to full strength.