Minneapolis Police Department is remaining silent following a report by Reuters that alleges its officers have engaged in a "pullback" from public safety efforts since the death of George Floyd and the subsequent civil unrest that followed.
The police department, which is currently the subject of a federal pattern and practice investigation to determine if it's engaged in unlawful practices, has come under scrutiny once again following the release by Reuters of a special report entitled: "After Floyd's killing, Minneapolis police retreated, data shows."
The article alleges that MPD has imposed a "hands off" approach to crime since June 2020, but the department did not respond when asked for a comment by Bring Me The News in the wake of the article's publication.
Since the murder of George Floyd by now-former MPD officer Derek Chauvin and the subsequent protests and riots that followed, there has been a significant rise in officers either retiring or taking medical leave. This has resulted in about 200 fewer officers being on the streets compared to 2019, with the city responding by providing $5 million in additional funding for overtime pay, while a judge ordered the city this past July to hire more officers.
This reduction of officers was cited by John Elder, the MPD spokesman who left for another department this past week, as the reason for the difficulty in responding to the city's crime needs since spring 2020, telling Reuters that officers "were running from call to call and didn’t have time for anything else."
However, the Reuters story says that the drop in crime prevention efforts – which it calls a "pullback" – was disproportionately larger than the reduction in police officers, based on its examination of crime and police response data between June 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021, compared to the year before.
This included a 78% drop in traffic stops – something which activists calling for policing changes have wanted – but also a 76% drop in "patrolling known problem areas," a 71% reduction in business checks (stopping into businesses to chat with workers/customers), a 69% drop in walking foot beats, and a 91% reduction in attending community engagement meetings.
Other notable allegations in the Reuters report include a claim by one anonymous MPD officer who said some officers took longer routes to an emergency in the hope that it would be resolved by the time they got there, with the piece pointing out that 911 response times have risen by 40% in the past year.
Another recently retired officer recalls how a supervisor said he "didn't blame" officers if they didn't want to go onto the streets, and preferred instead to "hang out" at the station.
This has happened against a backdrop of rising crime in Minneapolis that saw homicides spike to 82 in 2020, a trend that has continued into 2021, as well as a wave of violent crimes including shootings – three of them children hit by stray bullets, two fatally – and carjackings.
It was reported earlier this month that the arrest rate in Minneapolis as of the start of August was just 12%, compared to 15-28% for previous years, WCCO reports.
No additional comment from Mayor Frey
Bring Me The News also reached out to the office of Mayor Jacob Frey – who plans to increase funding and the size of MPD and opposes efforts to put police under the banner of a newly-created public safety department following Floyd's murder.
His office had planned to send a lengthier statement than the one he gave to Reuters, but two days later we have not received one.
He told Reuters that MPD has had to "handle a host of issues that no other jurisdiction wants to touch with a pole." BMTN asked for clarification to this statement as to whether he was comparing MPD to other Minnesota forces, or police departments nationally.
We also asked the mayor's office if his office will be taking any action in response to the report and some of the claims it contains.