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Minneapolis paid more than $3.3 million in police overtime in wake of George Floyd's death

By Liz Sawyer and Maryjo Webster, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

City leaders had allocated $4 million in police overtime for the entire year.

Three months later, it's still unclear exactly how Minneapolis will foot the bill.

Unanticipated overspending could potentially be offset by underspending within another department, said Micah Intermill, city budget director. But if there is no extra revenue to cover the difference, the city will likely turn to its rainy day fund - a $40 million reserve of unobligated general fund cash, of which leaders are already borrowing $8 million to balance the budget.

"It's messy, to be sure," Intermill said. "But there are a number of paths we can go down to make sure expenses are covered at year-end."

An economic crisis fueled by the Coronavirus pandemic left city leaders scrambling to cut costs this summer in anticipation of a $156 million revenue loss.

Some of those cuts affected the Minneapolis Police Department, which was initially slated to have a roughly $193 million budget for 2020. Elected officials estimated in late July that they had saved roughly $8.6 million of that when they implemented a citywide hiring and wage freeze. Around that same time, in their first major budget negotiations following George Floyd's death, the mayor and council agreed to cut another $1.5 million from the department's budget, much of which got moved to the Office of Violence Prevention.

 

Around 145 civilian MPD employees and appointed staff, including Chief Arradondo, agreed to take 4 to 6 unpaid furlough days. Sworn personnel and members of the fire department were not subject to the furloughs because their bargaining units failed to reach an agreement with the city.

Since Memorial Day, the police force has lost more than 10% of its officers through resignation, termination, retirement or medical leave. Depleted staffing levels amid a surge in violent crime and intense political debate over the police department's future has slowed emergency response times throughout the city and sunken morale.

Frey's 2021 budget proposal anticipates further departures and a continued reliance on overtime to fill the gaps. MPD projects it will spend an additional $5 million above its allotted $3.5 million in overtime costs next year - a figure several council members say is not sustainable long-term.

City Council Member Linea Palmisano, who serves as chair of the council's budget committee, stressed that while she doesn't want to cap the amount of overtime police can work, the department shouldn't get a "blank check" from the council. But Palmisano fears staffing is already precariously low for a city this size, where on some occasions only eight officers are expected to patrol an entire precinct.

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