The Minneapolis City Council agreed on Friday to spend $6.4 million to hire dozens more police officers in a unanimous vote that came just eight days after city police requested the funding.
The decision comes following months of riots and calls to defund the police after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody. The Star Tribune reported that the city only has 638 officers currently available to work, hundreds fewer than in recent years.
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 Mayor Jacob Frey condemned the move, calling it “irresponsible.” 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.”
A number of officers have resigned, retired or went on medical leave, many for apparent PTSD following the riots of 2020, the New York Post reported. At least 155 are on extended leave, according to the Tribune.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced changes to the hiring process, including an updated application for recruits that will include questions about whether they have ever lived in Minneapolis, whether they have degrees in criminology, social work, psychology or counseling and whether they volunteer or participate in programs like the Police Activities League.
Deputy Police Chief Amelia Huffman said the changes, which go into effect next week, “will help us to really feel confident that we are recruiting the kinds of candidates we want right from the beginning.”
In December, the City Council unanimously approved an $8 million cut to the city’s police department budget, shifting funds away from the MPD to other programs, including violence prevention.
Funds were ordered to be redirected to mental health teams and violence prevention programs, as well as a number of other initiatives, The Associated Press reported. 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.
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.