Number of officers declining at ‘accelerated rate,’ Minneapolis police chief says

The MPD expects to end this year with 625 active sworn officers.

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The Minneapolis Police Department started 2021 with about 200 fewer police officers than it had at the beginning of last year.

The MPD kicked off the new year with 817 sworn officers, but with 155 out on leave, the number was down to 638 available and active officers.

For comparison, MPD began 2020 with 877 sworn officers, and 105 left throughout the year. An average year in the past yielded 40-44 officers leaving.

According to a presentation from Chief Medaria Arradondo and Financial Director Robin McPherson at a Thursday Minneapolis City Council meeting, many of those on leave are out on PTSD claims.

The average number of active officers throughout 2019 was 851, Arradondo said.

“MPD’s active sworn [officers] continue to decline at an accelerated rate in quarter four of 2020 and quarter one of 2021 due to additional leaves, attrition, and the retirement incentive program,” Arradondo said.

According to their budget numbers for 2021, the MPD administration anticipated having 736 active officers on the police force, 100 more than the current number, with around 120 on leave instead of 155.

The MPD expects to end this year with 625 active sworn officers.

When asked by a council member how many officers usually come back after being on leave, McPherson said it is probable that “more than a handful” will not return. She was not aware of anyone coming back who had gone on leave in 2020.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey released a statement Thursday that said the “increased rate of attrition” has made “a tumultuous time” even more difficult.

With “about 200 fewer than the same point in time in 2019,” according to Frey, the smaller police force has resulted in substantial cuts to community-oriented initiatives, fewer specialized officers like SWAT, and a significantly reduced training staff.

“At the same time, we’ve seen crime numbers rise across the board. And we know that our Black community is bearing the brunt of those increases,” Frey said. “We’re not interested in simply building a bigger department, we’re setting out to create a better, fairer community safety system.”