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Minneapolis City Council approves additional funding for MPD

The approval comes days after a tense exchange between the police chief and council members.

The Minneapolis City Council has narrowly approved nearly $500,000 in additional funding for the Minneapolis Police Department so it can contract with other agencies amid a surge in violent crime this year. 

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo requested $496,800 from the city's general fund so the MPD can partner with Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Metro Transit Police on a citywide joint-enforcement initiative to "try to stop the bleeding" in the city. 

This year, Minneapolis has had 74 homicides, nearly 500 people have been shot and there's been an increase in carjackings and other violent crimes. What's more, the MPD has lost about 150 officers due to attrition (a typical year sees 40-45 officers resign or retire). 

"Our resources are hemorrhaging, our city is bleeding and I am doing all I can to stop that bleeding," Arradondo told City Council members earlier this week.

The money will allow the MPD to contract with the other agencies to bring in 20 to 40 officers to work full-time starting as soon as Nov. 15 until the end of the year. A contract has yet to be finalized, but the additional officers would likely help answer 911 calls and combat violence in hot spot areas.

The City Council on a 7-6 vote Friday approved the funding without any additional comment on the matter. 

Council members Lisa Goodman, Alondra Cano, Andrea Jenkins, Kevin Reich, Jamal Osman, Linea Palmisano and Andrew Johnson voted in favor of the proposal, WCCO says.

Steve Fletcher, Lisa Bender, Phillipe Cunningham, Cam Gordon and Jeremy Schroeder voted against it.

"Minneapolis, like local governments across this country, is grappling with competing crises – combating a global pandemic, weathering an economic downturn, and pursuing racial justice. And at the same time, neighborhoods across our city have endured an intolerable level of gun violence and crime," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement on Facebook following the vote. "Today we sent a clear signal that Chief Arradondo has our support and that we are ready to work collaboratively with our law enforcement partners while continuing to implement concrete, transformative public safety measures."

The vote was the same as it was Tuesday when council members discussed and ultimately approved the proposal during the City Council's Policy and Government Oversight Committee. 

Tuesday's meeting featured some tense moments and strong words between the chief and City Council members, many of whom had pledged to dismantle the MPD following George Floyd's death on May 25.

Council members who didn't support the additional funding questioned how the MPD has already spent its $185 million budget despite losing so many officers via attrition and asked how an additional nearly $500,000 would help prevent violence if $185 million wasn't enough. 

Meanwhile, other members who supported the additional funding – including Cano, Jenkins and Johnson who have called for dismantling the MPD – said while adding more officers won't stop all the crime, it will help the department respond to calls faster and make a difference among residents who've been pleading for something to be done about all the violence and carjackings. 

Community groups who've been pushing for police reform criticized the City Council's decision following Friday's vote.

Zola Richardson of Reclaim the Block, a group pushing to reallocate money from the MPD to other areas in the city budget that promote community safety, released a statement saying: 

“The police hoped they could get this passed without us noticing, Once again, we see the city shutting out the needs of the community to prop up MPD. As temperatures drop and COVID-19 cases remain unmitigated, the council, Mayor Frey, and Chief Arradondo should be focusing on securing housing for community members and providing direct economic relief.”

Next week, the City Council will hold public hearings on the proposed 2021 city budget, and Reclaim the Block's Sheila Nezhad says the indented to remind the City Council "that they are accountable to the community, not the cops."

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