Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson said last week that Minneapolis is “facing a crisis that nobody wants to talk about” when it comes to police staffing levels.
Hutchinson said that right now, “there’s not enough cops to properly police Minneapolis.” He added that it may soon start impacting how residents go about their lives and activities in the city.
Hutchinson made that grim prediction and other comments during a radio interview on Thursday with WCCO’s Mike Max.
Data presented that same day in a Minneapolis City Council committee meeting appears to back up Hutchinson’s claims.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo stated that the department is down to 632 sworn full-time employees, compared to 845 in 2020, which is a 25% decrease.
Robin McPherson, Financial Director of Operations for the Minneapolis Police Department, stated in the online council meeting that while police officer departures have slowed down, they haven’t stopped. McPherson indicated that more officer departures are expected.
McPherson said that recruit trainees are in the pipeline but they’re not fully up to speed yet and are still working hand-in-hand with current officers.
Hutchinson referenced downtown Minneapolis “having some issues” and indicated that the First Precinct Commander Bill Peterson is especially feeling the pinch. “He’s so short [on staff] it’s unbelievable,” Hutchinson said.
Personnel from the sheriff’s office as well as Transit Police have been helping downtown at games and other times as needed, Hutchinson said. But even he is short-staffed on detention deputies.
Hutchinson said that Minneapolis has been hit hard with the police staffing shortage due to the amount of “controversy” in the past few months. However, he said that police staffing issues are spread beyond Minneapolis to cities like Brooklyn Center and even nationally.
A recent report states that the cities of Chicago, New York City, and Baltimore have documented police staffing shortages, in addition to Minneapolis. The reasons cited for the shortages in the report range from low morale and residency requirements to police reforms that eliminate qualified immunity, which shields officers from lawsuits.
Hutchinson opined that the public opinion “pendulum” will shift when “crime is even more out of control,” and when people realize that without proper policing, deputies, and public safety, it’s going to start affecting “how we go to dinner, how we go to Twins games,” and other activities.
The City Council public safety committee on Thursday approved releasing $5 million being held in reserves to help cover a portion of overtime costs the department has had as a result of officer shortages.
“We need people,” Hutchinson said. “Right now it’s tough to hire the best candidates, when there’s only half the people applying that used to [apply].”
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.