Chauvin trial security cost $2.9 million in overtime, Minneapolis Police say

Extra security in place at the Hennepin County Government Center as jury selection for the Derek Chauvin trial begins Monday, March 8, 2021. (FOX 9)

Minneapolis Police say enhanced security during the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin this spring cost the city $2.9 million in overtime.

Agency officials made the disclosure to Minneapolis City Council as MPD requests $5 million to cover rising overtime costs in 2021. The proposal will be in front of the council's Public Safety committee on Thursday.

More than 200 officers have left Minneapolis Police over the past year, stretching the remaining staff as violent crime surges. Mayor Jacob Frey is seeking to use federal stimulus money to bring in outside agencies to help with patrols and investigations, a proposal that's raising questions from council members.

MPD's sworn strength now stands at 632 officers, down 25 percent from 845 one year ago, according to police staffing data.

MPD has saved between $1 million and $3 million on payroll this year, but the city is still paying some officers who have taken disability leave in recent months, even as their absence creates overtime demands, said Robin McPherson, the agency's finance director.

"So our payroll savings is not as great," McPherson told council members during a Wednesday morning meeting.

Council members put the $5 million in a reserve fund during budget negotiations late last year. Police officials now say they will need all of it to cover overtime expenses.

Council Member Steve Fletcher, who represents most of downtown, questioned why the city didn't have enough payroll savings to cover overtime costs.

"We're going to need help understanding where the money is going," Fletcher said.

Separately, Frey has proposed using $11.5 million of the city's allocation of federal American Rescue Plan stimulus funding on public safety to slow the crime spike. Homicides, nonfatal shootings and carjackings have doubled last year's pace.

Of that amount, Minneapolis Police would get $5.6 million, while the remaining $5.9 million would go to violence interruption programs.

Under Frey's proposal, MPD would get:

• $1.4 million to contract with outside agencies, including the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Metro Transit, to help with patrols and criminal investigations
• $1.4 million to unfreeze 13 civilian administrative and support positions, freeing up sworn staff for law enforcement operations
• $250,000 for overtime to staff 12 additional shifts in crime hotspots
• $640,000 for fixed and portable cameras to install in hotspot areas
• $1.8 million to train community service officers, who are students in law enforcement programs

Council members raised concerns about the chain of command if outside agencies help in Minneapolis.

"What happens when we are contracting with outside law enforcement agencies? How does the chain of command work? Who’s in charge? Who determines how those resources are used?" asked Council President Lisa Bender.

Bender pointed to two recent cases. One was the multi-jurisdictional Operation Safety Net's use of tear gas to quell unrest in Brooklyn Center in April following the police killing of Daunte Wright, after the Brooklyn Center City Council voted to restrict the use of gas.

The other involves the confusion over federal body camera policy after the multi-agency task force shooting of Winston Smith in Uptown Minneapolis last week.

Minneapolis Police's assistant chief said the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Metro Transit would follow their own policies when assisting.

"We would have those funds allocated for those other agencies to respond to hotspot locations, to respond to certain calls, to respond to incidents," Assistant Chief Henry Halvorson said.