State and Twin Cities leaders dither while vulnerable residents live in fear and increasing danger.
The head of the Minneapolis Police Federation confirms what many residents already know and fear. There aren’t enough police on the job citywide with the shortage in staffing affecting the area that arguably needs a greater police presence most of all, according to KSTP-TV.
“I looked at the last 28-day schedule from every precinct and all of them are running below their minimum levels several days a month,” [Minneapolis Police Federation President Sgt. Sherral] Schmidt said.
In the Fourth Precinct, on the city’s north side, Schmidt told KSTP staffing has been particularly tough. Each 10-hour shift has a 10-officer minimum staffing recommendation, but the middle watch from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. has been probably the biggest challenge.
“In the Fourth Precinct, we fell below the 10-officer-per-shift minimum staffing on 23 of the last 28 scheduled days,” Schmidt said. “And on one particular day in July, there were only four officers scheduled for the middle watch shift, which is kind of shocking.”
In an emergency, there are times there’s not enough officers on hand to handle the situation without calling for back up from other precincts, leaving those neighborhoods potentially more vulnerable.
Schmidt said when there is a serious incident, like a shooting, MPD has to juggle things and bring in officers from other precincts, but that leaves those precincts in a bit of a bind to keep up with 911 calls.
“The supervisors at that precinct or at that scene would call or request other cars from other precincts to come over and help handle the 911 calls that keep coming in,” Schmidt said. “But that then leaves the other precincts short because, like I said, most of our shifts are running short.”
The police federation’s head count underscores the urgency behind the Upper Midwest Law Center’s successful lawsuit on behalf of eight Minneapolis residents who sued to force the city to hire and train more police officers as required by the city charter.
A Hennepin County District Court judge ruled on July 1 the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey must “immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force” of at least 730 sworn officers. The city currently has an estimated 669 officers on duty with their numbers expected to decline even further in coming months.
WCCO-TV and other media outlets noted the ruling particularly bolstered Minneapolis citizens on the north side who live in constant fear of gang and gun violence.
We have to work together. That’s what this is about, us working together to build this city back,” Cathy Spann said.
Spann is part of the group of neighbors who sued the city because the felt there was not enough police on the street to protect them from a surge of crime that impacted poor and minority neighborhoods.
“The courts have decided that we have been harmed, that we in fact have been impacted, that our lives are in danger. The judge heard that there are bullets coming through our homes, through our cars, and through our children,” Don Samuels said.
The city has not yet indicated whether it will appeal or implement the judge’s ruling to immediately begin hiring and training more police officers. Every day of inaction puts the residents of the north side and other precincts unnecessarily at risk due to the city government’s utter lack of leadership.