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Minneapolis City Council votes down $15 million plan for bonuses to hire, retain MPD officers

Minneapolis City Council rejects plan to help rebuild MPD’s ranks
Minneapolis City Council rejects plan to help rebuild MPD’s ranks 02:02

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis City Council has rejected a plan to help rebuild the ranks of the police department.

Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Brian O'Hara announced a proposal last week to spend more than $15 million in bonuses to hire and keep officers.

City council members rejected that plan in a 7-5 vote Tuesday evening, saying those bonuses are not effective tools.

RELATED: Minneapolis Mayor Frey wants $1M investment in reimagining public safety beyond policing

The Minneapolis Police Department is more than 150 officers short of court-ordered staffing levels. Chief O'Hara says the numbers are dangerously low and not sustainable. 

In the agreement between the police union and the city, officers would get paid $18,000 over two-and-a-half years to stay on the force. New hires will get $15,000 over three years.   


"If we're gonna tell the state we'll take the $19 million and we haven't come up with anything but we gave bonuses to the MPD, bonuses, you know, do not save lives," said Ward 6 Councilmember Jamal Osman.

"They've had six months to speak to us and they chose to wait until the last second," said Ward 11 Councilmember Emily Koski. "We've asked a number of questions and made requests for information regarding sign-on and retention bonuses and we have yet to hear back. I will not be pushed to make rash decisions funded by taxpayer dollars."

Ward 4 Councilmember LaTrisha Vetaw voiced an opposing view.  

RELATED: O'Hara reflects on first year as Minneapolis police chief: "You can't shake up a police department without actually shaking it up"

"I just don't think this council is taking how serious this issue is with the pace we're losing officers," Vetaw said. "We've already lost 66 officers this year, and we're expecting a whole lot more next year."

Other city leaders argue that those incentives are incredibly valuable. Community Safety Commissioner Todd Barnette spoke Sunday with WCCO's Esme Murphy about the proposal.

"We've seen cities give out bonuses, so we're hoping that by doing this we'll attract more officers as well," Barnette said.

After the rejection, Mayor Frey called for a special session of the city council that will be focused on trying to come to an agreement on how the city can retain its police force. That will take place Friday at 2 p.m. at Minneapolis City Hall.

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