Just months after the Minneapolis City Council called for “dismantling” the police department in the wake of George Floyd’s death, they are now panicking that there’s not enough policing to deal with the spike in violent crime. During a recent meeting that was supposed to be a study session on police reform, Democratic council members instead relayed the frustrations they’re hearing from constituents.
“Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police’?” said council member Jamal Osman, reports MPR News. “That is the only public safety option they have at the moment. MPD. They rely on MPD. And they are saying they are nowhere to be seen.”
The number of reported violent crimes, like assaults, robberies and homicides are up compared to 2019, according to MPD crime data. More people have been killed in the city in the first nine months of 2020 than were slain in all of last year. Property crimes, like burglaries and auto thefts, are also up. Incidents of arson have increased 55 percent over the total at this point in 2019. (MPR News)
Even typically safer wards are seeing a major spike in violence, with residents telling their council members they feel “terrorized.” Council President Lisa Bender, who led the charge to dismantle the police and “replace it with a transformative new model of public safety,” argued that officers were being defiant.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said approximately 100 officers have left the department or taken leave since the start of 2020. At least one council member, who is still an advocate for creating a community safety agency to replace the police, said he was “flabbergasted” by the change in tune from his colleagues.
“What I am sort of flabbergasted by right now is colleagues, who a very short time ago were calling for abolition, are now suggesting we should be putting more resources and funding into MPD,” council member Phillipe Cunningham said, reports MPR News. In June, the city council voted to replace the police department with a new public safety unit called the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. They hoped to get the issue on the November ballot but that move was blocked by the Minneapolis Charter Commission.