Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in late May, a nine-member majority of the city council immediately gathered and pledged to dismantle and defund the police department. While efforts to amend the city’s charter to that end are underway, the city council is demanding answers from the city’s police chief as to why his department is not adequately handling the rise in crime that is occurring across the city.
The 13-member city council, composed of 12 Democrats and one Green Party representative, met this week and questioned Police Chief Medaria Arradondo about complaints from city residents with regard to a lack of enforcement citywide.
“Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police?’” said Council Member Jamal Osman, expressing her view that calls to the police were going unanswered, according to Fox 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 change in tone by the city council has not gone unnoticed even by its own members. Council Member Phillipe Cunningham spoke up at the meeting. “What I am sort of flabbergasted by is … colleagues who a very short time ago who were calling for abolition, who are now suggesting that we should be putting more funding and resources into MPD. We know that this is not producing different outcomes.”
Minneapolis is experiencing a steep increase in crime this year. According to the city’s own police statistics, as of September 9, serious crimes such as robbery, assault and burglary are above their five-year averages. The city has suffered 59 homicides thus far, which nearly doubles its year-to-date average since 2015.
In July the council approved an amendment that would take $1 million from the city police budget and reallocate it to the public health department to hire “violence interrupters” who are supposed to defuse potentially violent situations.
A Republican candidate for Congress from Minnesota, Lacy Johnson, blasted the city council for causing the uptick in crime.
“All of those things have gone up and it is something that should have been expected, but it just shows you how out of touch our city council is and our liberal government leadership here in Minnesota is,” Johnson said in an appearance on Fox and Friends.
Johnson is challenging Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in November. Omar spoke in support of defunding the Minneapolis police in June on CNN’s State of the Union: “And so this is our opportunity, as a city, to come together, have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community, and just like San Francisco did — right now, they’re moving towards a process where there is a separation of the kind of crimes that solicit the help of, you know, officers, and the kind of crimes that we should have someone else respond to.”
Chief Arradondo promised to address the city council’s complaints with his departmental supervisors but warned the members to be open to compromise.
“That may mean you making commitments that might be uncomfortable for some of those constituents that you represent, but if your ultimate goal is to have true community safety, I will tell you right now, we have to work together in that effort,” he told them.
Photo from MUNSHOTS / Shutterstock.com
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