Minneapolis needs police officers – not more bureaucracy

Here are some facts. Minneapolis is:

  • At an all-time low proportion of police officers to citizens – 1.3/1,000 while the national average is 2.8/1,000.
  • Managing its police department with an interim police chief for the 8th month in a row.
  • On pace to set a record for armed carjackings – 3rd year in a row.
  • On pace for over 90 murders – 2nd year in a row.
  • On pace for nearly 10,000 shots fired incidents in the city – 2nd year in a row.

Minneapolis needs a full-time chief and about 200-300 police officers, not more focus groups, debate about “holistic” strategies, and certainly not more bureaucracy.

The Star Tribune reported this weekend on the city’s plan to hold a city council vote in the fall to formally create a new level of bureaucracy in the city – the community safety office, led by Cedric Alexander, an appointed commissioner.  Commissioner Alexander would oversee the police department, fire department, and emergency management offices and violence prevention.

Any plan that adds bureaucracy and complexity to an issue in crisis seems ill-conceived. 

In addition, the man chosen to lead this plan is not without controversy.  His performance in his previous role as the Chief of Police in Dekalb, Ga. was fraught with complaints about his failure to address the issues he was hired to address.

“Alexander, I know we are not perfect, but for God’s sake, who is training these officers? … Instead of citizens seeing you on TV in Ferguson, Baltimore or New York, it might be good to stay in DeKalb and stop some of this runaway crime.”

Time will tell if this plan helps improve public safety in Minneapolis in any meaningful way.  It seems the city would be better served to focus all efforts on filling the chief vacancy and replacing several hundred police officers – now.