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Minneapolis police face staffing challenges as violence rises

Libor Jany, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis police are down at least 100 officers since the killing of George Floyd -- more than 10% of the force -- straining department resources amid a wave of violence and adding extra urgency to the political debate over its future.

Over the past two months, 40 cops have resigned, been fired or are in the process of leaving the force, and another 75 have taken a medical leave for post-traumatic stress disorder they say was caused by the riots that followed Floyd's death. Dozens more are expected to file for leave in the coming months.

MPD officials not authorized to speak publicly estimate the department, which is budgeted for 888 officers this year, could lose as much as a third of its workforce by the end of the year.

The shortages highlight the challenge facing the city's beleaguered police force as it faces calls for its defunding, or even abolishment.

Residents say that police are taking longer to respond to emergency calls, even as homicides, shootings and robberies have all increased by double digits from last year.

Some of that frustration surfaced during Friday's City Council meeting, when Council Member Andrea Jenkins questioned officers' apparent reluctance to enter the area surrounding Floyd's memorial at E. 38th Street and S. Chicago Avenue, a long troubled corner that has been the site of several shootings in recent weeks.

 

"People in this area, they're not experiencing slow response, they're experiencing no response. They're being told that this is called a no-go zone by MPD," she said in the meeting broadcast on Zoom.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo defended the department's responses near the blocked-off intersection in the meeting, explaining that officers must respond to calls, and if they don't, the reason is documented.

"In and around that intersection when a violent incident had occurred, in order for officers to try and safely get in there, that officers had to have some communication of they could meet right outside the barriers, I know there are a couple incidences where that had occurred."

Although total reported crimes were down 31% in June and 4% by July's end, gunfire incidents, which tie up multiple squads, soared 224% and 166% during the same period, according to MPD records.

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