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Minneapolis slashes $8 million from police budget in unanimous city council vote

Minneapolis police (Tony Webster/Flickr)
December 10, 2020

An $8 million cut to the Minneapolis Police Department budget was unanimously approved by the City Council Thursday, shifting funds away from the MPD to other programs, including violence prevention.

The current policing budget of $179 million will be cut by $8 million, with funds redirected to mental health teams and violence prevention programs, as well as a number of other initiatives, The Associated Press reported. Mayor Jacob Frey had previously threatened to veto the proposed budget if the council pursued a cap on police staffing, a threat that led the city council to maintain the mayor’s staffing requirements for sworn officers despite the slashed budget.

The council had originally voted on a cut that would reduce the city’s authorized police force to 750 officers from 888, but the group reversed course after Frey condemned the move, calling it “irresponsible.” On Wednesday, the council decided to keep the number of sworn-in officers at 888 in a 7-6 vote.

“Tonight the City Council passed a budget that represents a compromise, and also a big step forward into a more compassionate and effective public safety future,” said City Council member Steve Fletcher, co-author of the proposal to lower the cap on staffing, adding that the city “cannot afford to remain stuck in the past any longer.”

Frey called the unanimous vote a defining moment for the Midwestern city amid a crime wave and calls for defunding the police following the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.

“We all share a deep and abiding reverence for the role our local government plays in service of the people of our city,” Frey said. “And today, there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future in Minneapolis.”

Allies refer to the City Council’s plan as “Safety for All,” a new version of the “defund the police” movement. The language adjustment comes just weeks after former-President Barack Obama criticized the mantra, alleging it was scaring away a large audience “the minute you say [defund the police].”

Over the summer, a proposition to completely dismantle the police department and replace it with a “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention” had early support but ultimately failed when another city commission voted against allowing it on the November ballot.

In 2020, there have been 532 gunshot victims in Minneapolis, more than twice the same period last year. Carjackings have increased a staggering 331 percent from 2019, hitting 375 so far this year. Violent crimes have also jumped, surpassing 5,100 compared to roughly 4,000 during the same period in 2019.