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Faced with rising crime and a truncated police force, officials in Minneapolis, Minn., are looking to bring on additional law enforcement personnel to help protect the city's residents and respond to escalating numbers of violent 911 calls.
The added officers, which would come from the neighboring Hennepin County Sheriff's office and the Metro Transit Police, would join the city's Joint Enforcement Teams starting on Nov. 15 and continue through the end of the year. Should officials approve the proposal, the additional services would cost Minneapolis just under $497,000—an expenditure that be covered by the city’s contingency fund.
Linea Palmisano, a Council Member in Minneapolis, told the Star Tribune that financial limitations might hamper the city’s efforts to man the police department going forward.
“We’re barely able to cover the shifts that we have,” Palmisano said. “We really can’t allocate additional police officers for on-duty shifts.”
But it’s an expenditure the city might be force to prioritize.
Since the beginning of September, the Minneapolis Police Department has reported 14 counts of homicide, 70 counts of reported rape, 622 cases of aggravated assault, and 691 cases of automobile theft. Since protests began over George Floyd’s death earlier this year, violent crime has climbed 17 percent in the city overall and as much as 30 percent in some low-income areas, according to the Star Tribune. While recent numbers certainly represent a spike in normal crime levels, this isn’t the first time Minneapolis police department has struggled with finding the resources needed to fight crime.
According to Minneapolis 911-call data, over 20,000 dispatch calls went unanswered between 2017 and 2019 when officers were unavailable. That problem has grown worse as calls to defund the police have antagonized many of the city’s servicemen. In July, as many as 200 officers had applied to leave the police force, prompting concerns that the city’s already thin law enforcement would not be able to adequately protect its residents.
John Elder, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police, believes the additional law enforcement officers are an impending necessity.
“We’re not going to be having these people out taking bicycle theft reports. These are going to be people out combating crime issues,” Elder said.
The proposal will be heard by the Policy and Government Oversight Committee on Tuesday. Should it pass, it will go to a council vote on the following Friday and then be passed to the Mayor of Minneapolis for final approval.