Minneapolis’s new social justice model of public safety
In November 2021, Minneapolis voters soundly rejected a proposal put forth by the City Council to replace the police department with a new Department of Public Safety. This came after a multiyear effort by Minneapolis leaders and activists to defund, destruct, and dismantle traditional policing and public safety efforts.
In an end-around, Mayor Frey and the City Council created a new Office of Community Safety in 2022 and hired Cedric Alexander to serve as the first Commissioner of the new office. Commissioner Alexander will have direct oversight of former independent public safety departments to include Police, Fire, 911 Communications, Emergency Management, and the relatively new Office of Neighborhood Safety.
As this progressive approach begins operation, it is worth comparing Minneapolis’s public safety spending in 2018 vs 2022 against a backdrop of trending crime rates (3-year average). Data for this comparison can be found in the Minneapolis City Budget page found here, and in the Minneapolis City Crime Dashboard found here.
Minneapolis has been at the forefront of advocating for the dismantling of traditional public safety systems in favor of new social justice based systems. Not surprisingly, since 2018 traditional public safety departments have received a modest 10% increase in funding, while new initiatives related to the social justice focus have received a significant 321% increase.
The reprioritizing of funds has, up to this point, failed to provide public safety improvements in Minneapolis.
The following data represents 2018 actual spending vs. 2022 budgeted spending, and the corresponding rise/fall in crime categories (3-year average) as reported in the Minneapolis Crime Dashboard.
Monitor and evaluate
Time will tell how the new Office of Community Safety and the city’s social justice focus will affect public safety in Minneapolis. So far, it’s been dreadful.
No matter how one feels about the direction Minneapolis leadership has gone, it is in our collective best interest that Minneapolis succeeds. Robust monitoring and honest evaluation will be the key to any real success.