Police funding at the center of debate at Minneapolis budget public hearing

- Hundreds of Minneapolis residents are sharing their opinions on the city’s budget proposal. At the center of the issue was police funding.

It was standing room only Wednesday night at City Hall with dozens of people filling up the overflow rooms as well. People showed up in droves to speak out against funding the police department, saying they want less officers on the streets. Many held signs that said, “Fund the community not the cops.”

Several groups at the hearing were demanding that part of Mayor Jacob Frey's budget go toward affordable housing and social service programs, like mental health, rather than more officers on the force. Some even urged the council to consider divesting five percent of funding away from the department.

Currently, there are about 850 officers within the Minneapolis Police Department. The president of the Minneapolis police union told Fox 9 the department is currently understaffed for a city this size. The proposed budget for next year is nearly $1.5 billion, of which about $30 million would go toward housing and $1 million would go to MPD where eight positions would be civilianized.

"There is nothing progressive about a mayor or a city council that continues to waste millions in a system of policing that we know is violent instead of listening to their community and constituents," said Kandace Montgomery of Reclaim the Block.

"We're part of the community we're not just a bunch of lawyers that go home to some place in the suburb and I think increasing this budget more than what it is would be more helpful," said Richard Zimmerman, a Minneapolis police officer.

This meeting marked the second of three public hearings on the proposed budget. The last hearing will be held next Wednesday, then the full council will vote.

Fox 9 reached out to all of the members of City Council, but so far has not received a response.

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