Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo wants to drastically increase the number of officers in the city, but council members say the proposal is too expensive and won’t fully address community needs.
At a Minneapolis City Council committee meeting Wednesday, Arradondo noted that as the city’s population has increased by more than 40,000 people since 2010, the department has continually felt the strain of understaffing.
MPD currently employs around 600 patrol officers, which Arradondo says is inadequate. He told WCCO the department should add around 400 officers by 2025 to meet the city’s demands.
At current staffing levels, Arradondo said 911 calls too often result in delayed response times, hurting public trust. He said more officers means more patrols on foot, which leads to better community relations.
"We need to talk to what is required as opposed to getting fixated on that 600 number," he said.
MPD currently has almost 900 total sworn employees. Per union contract, 70 percent of those employees must be patrol officers.
Arradondo’s other selling point was officer well-being. In his presentation to the council, he highlighted the fact that officers and sergeants in the First Precinct, which covers the downtown area, had to work overtime 262 times from January to July of this year. Tired officers generate more complaints, he said.
In his presentation, Arradondo also made note of an outside study that showed majority support for increased policing among communities of color.
But council members were quick to question Arradondo’s proposal. Ward 3 City Council Member Steve Fletcher said commenting on the proposal’s support within minority communities politicized the issue, which he said was the job of the council.
"For you to make the case that it is politically popular for us to increase staffing in this department does not belong in this slideshow, and I am worried that if you continued down that path it would undermine the public’s trust in this analysis," he said.
Ward 4 City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham questioned whether new officers would further one of Arradondo’s biggest goals of changing the culture of MPD and improving community relations.
"If that is the culture, how do we know we’re not going to scale those challenges? Because we’re operating with the assumption that more will change the culture," he said.
Later on Twitter, Council President Lisa Bender brought up the taxpayer cost of these staffing changes, suggesting it would be Minneapolis an unaffordable place to live by 2025.
According to the Star Tribune, Arradondo had previously suggested raising total sworn staff to 1,000.
An increase of Arradondo's current proposal would bring total sworn employee numbers to 1,300.
You can watch the full council meeting, including Arradondo's testimony, below.