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Minnesota Supreme Court orders Minneapolis to hire more cops as city down more than 200 officers from 2 years ago

Minneapolis police continue to fall short in officer hires
Minneapolis police continue to fall short in officer hires 02:01

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis must hire police officers or explain in court why it can't, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Monday. But city records show that the police force is down more than 260 officers from the same time two years ago—and still short of the minimum 731 the court is ordering.

The state's highest court upheld part of a district court ruling finding that the "mayor has a clear legal duty under the Minneapolis City Charter to employ at least 731 sworn police officers," and returned the case to the lower court, which will have a hearing as early as next week where the city can present evidence of why it hasn't met the requirement.

Police payroll data show that around this time in June two years ago, the Minneapolis Police Department had 890 sworn officers on staff. The force shrunk significantly 2021—the latter half of year had officer fluctuate in the mid-600s.

There were 626 sworn officers as of June 4, the most recent data available. That number includes 39 on "continuous leave."

Minneapolis has not had 731 or more officers since March 2021, according to city records. Three years ago this month there were 910 officers in the city.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of eight North Minneapolis residents who sued Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council over the city's depleted police force, linking staffing woes to a rise in crime.

"This is a glimmer of hope for the city of Minneapolis that the police force will be restored, said James Dickey, attorney with the Upper Midwest Law Center who represented the plaintiffs. "Our clients—they're not interested in who's at fault here. What they care about is a minimum force level that returns safety to North Minneapolis and its residents."

(credit: CBS)

In a statement, interim Minneapolis City Attorney Peter Ginder said the loss of police personnel is unprecedented and "not easily corrected." He said the city is working to hire more cops in the department.

"Mayor Jacob Frey, the Minneapolis Police Department, and City are working in good faith to recruit and hire more community oriented peace officers as quickly as reasonably possible," Ginder said. "From additional funding for recruit classes and officer wellness programming to hiring bonuses, the City is continuing to work to rebuild the police force to full strength."

Ginder said the city is "still reviewing the full impact of this order and will be prepared to appear in district court." The lower court last July had ordered Minneapolis to comply with the minimum staff requirement by the end of this month or prove why it can't; the city won an appeal before the North Minneapolis residents successfully appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The department is so short-staffed that officers are seeing significant pay bumps due to overtime, according to data analyzed by the Minnesota Reformer.

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told the Minneapolis City Council last year that the city had lost the equivalent of an entire police precinct.

The Council recently approved more pay—a salary range up to $300,000—for the police chief position as the city hunts for the next head of the department. The city hired a recruiting group to conduct surveys of police chiefs across the country and determined that the salary increase is needed "to attract high quality candidates" given the "particular challenges" facing Minneapolis.

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