SURPRISING ruling by Minnesota Supreme Court

SURPRISING ruling by Minnesota Supreme Court

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered Minneapolis to immediately hire more police officers or prove why it can’t.

The city charter gives Mayor Jacob Frey a “clear legal duty” to maintain at least 731 officers in the Minneapolis Police Department, justices wrote in their Monday afternoon order. They returned the case to a Hennepin County judge to handle the details and set a date for the city to provide evidence of its staffing efforts.

“This is a glimmer of hope for the city of Minneapolis that the police force will be restored,” said James Dickey, attorney with the Upper Midwest Law Center who represented the plaintiffs. “Our clients, they’re not interested in who’s at fault here. What they care about is a minimum force level that returns safety to North Minneapolis and its residents.”

Police payroll data show that around this time in June two years ago, the Minneapolis Police Department had 890 sworn officers on staff. The force shrunk significantly 2021, the latter half of year had officer fluctuate in the mid-600s.

There were 626 sworn officers as of June 4, the most recent data available. That number includes 39 on “continuous leave.” Minneapolis has not had 731 or more officers since March 2021, according to city records. Three years ago, this month there were 910 officers in the city.

In a statement, interim Minneapolis City Attorney Peter Ginder said the loss of police personnel is unprecedented and “not easily corrected.” He said the city is working to hire more cops in the department.

“Mayor Jacob Frey, the Minneapolis Police Department, and City are working in good faith to recruit and hire more community-oriented peace officers as quickly as reasonably possible,” Ginder said. “From additional funding for recruit classes and officer wellness programming to hiring bonuses, the city is continuing to work to rebuild the police force to full strength.”

Ginder said the city is “still reviewing the full impact of this order and will be prepared to appear in district court.”

The lower court last July had ordered Minneapolis to comply with the minimum staff requirement by the end of this month or prove why it can’t; the city won an appeal before the North Minneapolis residents successfully appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The department is so short-staffed that officers are seeing significantly larger pay checks due to overtime, according to data analyzed by the Minnesota Reformer.

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