MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - A Minneapolis City Council committee has approved another million-plus dollars in workers' compensation for former Minneapolis Police Officers claiming post-traumatic stress and other injuries as they leave the force. The decision comes as city leaders are calling on the community to help change the department for the better.
The Policy and Government Oversight Committee welcomed a panel of activists, watchdogs, and concerned citizens to offer recommendations on officer union negotiations. The objective is twofold: to improve public safety and to reform the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd's murder.
"We are not anti-union. We are not against the police federation. We're not against police officers," said Stacey Gurian-Sherman of Minneapolis for a Better Police Contract. The group has spent years studying the issue and has formulated nearly two dozen suggestions for ongoing labor talks, ranging from hiring practices and disciplinary actions to mental health and wellness measures for officers.
"The fatigue cycle… if an officer is working too many hours, then he's not getting enough sleep. If he's not getting enough sleep, he's not going to be able to cope with the stressors of the job in a healthy way," argued Kim Milliard with Minneapolis for a Better Police Contract.
Meanwhile, the workers' compensation payouts to frontline employees exiting the MPD remains a divisive subject at City Hall.
"These settlements have also been a massive financial burden on taxpayers," said Council Member Robin Wonsley.
With another batch of approvals on Monday, the total workers' comp payouts have reached $28 million since George Floyd’s murder and the unrest that followed, according to numbers reported during Monday's meeting.
Wonsley says she's particularly concerned with settlement money for departing officers with questionable track records. "These payouts are going to officers that have done egregious acts of misconduct towards residents and also have not been held accountable," she stated. Wonsley pledged to collaborate with her colleagues to "rein in the blank check that keeps being signed to MPD repeatedly over and over."
As for the union negotiations that are ongoing, there is a unique situation this year: The negotiations are open to the public. The two sides will come back to the table in about ten days.