(The Center Square) – The Minnesota Supreme Court approved a request made by Minneapolis city attorneys for an accelerated ruling on a July court order for the 435,000-person city to hire 730 police officers by next summer.
A city council vote last week placed on the November ballot a question whether the police department should be replaced with a department of public safety that may or may not include police officers complicated the court order.
If voters approve the initiative, the amendment will remove the charter’s minimum police funding requirement.
Minneapolis City Attorney Jim Rowader explained why he sought further guidance.
“Because the district court interpreted the charter’s police force funding requirement in ways contrary to its plain meaning, the potential impact of the ballot question will be unclear to the voters,” Rowader said in a statement. “Voters need to know what they are voting on, so the City Attorney is seeking an accelerated review of the district court’s order in the Supreme Court of Minnesota. If granted, this will allow the court the opportunity to issue the final word on the charter language before Election Day.”
The lawsuit filed in August of 2020 by concerned Minneapolis residents living on the North Side of Minneapolis followed a police exodus in 2020 after the death of George Floyd caused the police department to violate the city charter’s minimum police force.
The court order says parties agreed that on Jan. 1, 2022, MPD will have 649 sworn officers; on June 1, 2022, MPD will have 669 sworn officers; on Jan 1, 2023, MPD will have 721 sworn officers.
The ask follows a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report finding an all-time record 185 homicides in 2020 — a 58% spike over 2019 — and violent crime increased by 16%.
2020 broke the Gopher State’s all-time homicide record of 183 in 1995 when Minneapolis was dubbed “Murderapolis.”
Arson rose 53.7% over 2019, from 462 to 710 in 2020. Motor vehicle theft increased by nearly 20%, with 13,662 vehicles stolen — the highest since 2005 — compared to 11,410 in 2019. Other report highlights include:
- 31 officer-involved shooting incidents reported in 2020, an increase of six over 2019
- A record 667 assaults on police officers in the line of duty in 2020 — a 62% increase over 2019
- The value of property stolen in 2020 topped $216 million, a 54.5% increase over 2019
The ballot question attempts to gauge voter preference after a year of record homicides but also a state rocked by Floyd’s death while in police custody.