Right there in the hometown newspaper…
Three articles appeared in the 12/2/23 edition of the Star Tribune that should resonate with those who understand the importance the police play in the future of Minneapolis.
The first article summarized the results of Minneapolis’s second month of Operation Endeavor, an intensive public safety effort that relies heavily on data analysis to identify crime hot spots and follows with intensive levels of visible proactive policing. It is undeniable that Minneapolis is benefiting from the effort, as the city has seen a 44% drop in gun-related calls, and a 67% drop in carjackings over the same period in 2021.
In the second month, a team of pro-active investigators from the MPD, HCSO, and BCA combined to recover 76 firearms, and over 10,000 fentanyl pills. The county attorney followed up with 53 formal charges against offenders related to these cases.
The second article, an opinion piece reprinted from the Washington Post, amplified analysis completed by Harvard’s sociology department that concluded the U.S. has far fewer police than other developed countries, and that the results often lead to more crime and a reliance on harsher penalties and more incarceration than if there were more officers to prevent crime from occurring and/or escalating. A stunning point from the analysis showed that the U.S. has 1/9th as many police officers per homicide as median developed countries worldwide.
The third article tied it all together in a depressing little bow. The article summarized how the Minneapolis City Council voted this week to cut over $1 million dollars from the police budget for 2023, resulting in the loss of at least five civilian positions whose work will need to now be backfilled by licensed police officers — this at a time when the agency, mandated to have at least 731 officers, has no more than 564. As Mayor Frey noted, the cuts will have long-term effects, as most of the cuts represent ongoing funding in future budget cycles.
Court orders to increase staffing, academic analysis on the merits of more police presence, and the results of its own police department’s efforts in reducing violent crime seem to be beneath some members of the Minneapolis City Council. Despite everything pointing toward the benefits of more police, the council’s majority stubbornly believes its own rhetoric.
I should note that this isn’t the same council makeup that voted to defund the police in 2021. In fact, it’s a far more reasonable council after several seats were turned in last year’s election. But the reasonable are still outnumbered. If Minneapolis is to survive, it will be through the work of some of these council members who are valuing the police and supporting them in word and in action — a gesture that is having a huge impact on morale.
As I’ve written before, and will repeat frequently, it is in the best interest of all Minnesotans that Minneapolis succeed and not fail. As tempting as it is at times to want to walk away, we need to stand with those fighting for the city’s future. Keep the turnaround NYC experienced in the ’90s as motivation, for if they could turn the NYC of the ’80s around, anything is possible.