Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is requesting that the Minneapolis City Council committee release $5 million from a reserve budget to go towards police overtime, a move that would replenish some of the budget cuts made by the city last fall.
The Minneapolis Police Department is currently understaffed and struggling with an officer shortage, forcing more officers to require overtime pay.
Arradondo told council members the money would cover only a small percentage of the overtime shifts needed due to the officer shortage, as well as security costs associated with the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin.
“MPD estimates the full amount of reserve [money] will be needed to meet the overtime demands in 2021,” the chief told council members.
The move comes after the city’s vow to defund police, officer shortages and a rise in crime. Over the last year, the city cut an initial $12 million dollars from the police budget, followed by an additional $8 million dollar reallocation of the budget to “public safety efforts” according to USA Today.
The Star Tribune reported that in addition to budget cuts, the police force is dealing with increased crime and understaffing. The Police Department began 2020 with roughly 850 officers available to work and a $193 million budget. However, officer retirements and resignations due to PTSD claims and low morale has brought the manpower to 627 officers, along with a reduction of $20 million to the budget.
The city has also experienced additional budget cuts across the board due to the pandemic’s strain on the economy.
Robin McPherson, the department’s finance director, told council members it had spent $5.2 million on police overtime this year, including $2.9 million for Operation Safety Net, the multiagency group that worked security for Chauvin’s trial. McPherson estimated the department will spend $4.3 million more to cover the rest of this year’s overtime pay.
For the first time in a while, the meeting between police and council members was cordial. Council members asked for more details on when new recruits might start working, and where the overtime pay was going.
Council Member Steve Fletcher thanked the police bureau officials for their presentation.
“The intention in our budget proceedings back in November and December was to create a moment of transparency and to make sure we were getting good updates on staffing,” he said. “I feel like we’ve gotten a good snapshot.”
The council, along with Mayor Jacob Frey, are recommending releasing the funds. Frey said, “Relying on overtime and over-scheduled officers is not a sustainable approach to policing and weakens our overall community safety strategies, including those led by our Office of Violence Prevention. However, given the deep levels of attritions the department has experienced, this funding will be essential to continue meeting core public safety needs as we work to expand recruitment efforts and bolster investigative and patrol capacity with outside support.”