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Twin Cities eye pivotal moment for crime, boost police funding

(The Center Square) – With two 30-year veteran police chiefs retiring amid surging record violent crime, Minneapolis and St. Paul are increasing police funding.

Both cities have either surpassed their record homicide numbers or are single digits from it with 15 days left in 2021. The Pioneer Press reported a Dec. 2 fatal stabbing over a parking dispute pushed St. Paul to its record 35th homicide in one year.

Minneapolis saw its 93rd homicide of the year on Dec. 2, according to the Star Tribune. That disturbing statistic is just shy of the city’s record of 97 homicides in 1995, a year when Minneapolis was dubbed “Murderapolis.”

Last year marked the city’s second-highest homicide number at 84, according to the same database. In 2020, the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle the department following the death of George Floyd. Violent crime subsequently spiked.

Between Jan. 1, 2021, and Oct. 11, 2021, there were 530 gunshot wound victims, a 137% increase from 2019’s 223 victims. The city counted 75 homicides in 2021, up 114% from 2019’s 35 homicides. Also, the 1,569 robberies counted so far in that period was a 50% increase from 2019’s 1,041.

In November, 56% of Minneapolis voters rejected a proposal to replace its police department. Outgoing Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said 87% of victims of violent crime are people of color.

Now, each city increased police funding, Fox 9 reported. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council agreed to fund police with $192 million to replace some of the nearly 300 officers lost since May 2020.

The plan increases funding for the Office of Violence Prevention to $11.3 million. On Dec. 13, Minneapolis launched a behavioral crisis response pilot project dispatched by Minneapolis 911. The response teams are an alternative to police response and won’t respond to violent incidents.

The St. Paul City Council approved a $660 million city budget after adding $1 million to fund a second police academy to restore officers from 553 to approach 619, Fox 9 reported.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, who’s leaving after his term ends in June, has continually pushed for more police funding. City leaders are considering accepting a $3.75 million federal grant to bring 30 additional police officers to fight violent crime, but those officers might cost the city as much as $30 million over the next decade, Mayor Melvin Carter told the the Pioneer Press in early December.


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