Data show Minneapolis PD hasn't shifted resources despite losing hundreds of officers

More than two dozen shots were fired inside and outside a crowded bar near the University of Minnesota campus. Once the shooting finally stopped early Friday morning, four people were hit by gunfire with one man fatally shot outside Bullwinkle's Saloon in the Seven Corners neighborhood.

This incident is just one of four separate shootings across Minneapolis from Thursday to Saturday, leaving three people dead and 11 others hurt.

The fatal shooting at Bullwinkle's marks the latest example in a string of violence across the First Precinct, which spans downtown from the North Loop to Cedar Riverside. Over the last year, from carjackings to shots fired calls, crime there has spiked, with the majority of violence happening in the evening hours between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Data that FOX 9 requested from the city of Minneapolis show the First Precinct has lost nearly 50 shifts since 2020, from officers working investigations, proactive beat cops and those specifically focused on keeping the Warehouse District safe during bar close.

But with fewer officers on the force, questions are being raised over how MPD resources are being deployed. Fox 9 wanted to know- how many officers are working in specific precincts and what time are they working? How experienced are the officers working in parts of the city where crime is happening the most?

FOX 9 found despite the fact that the majority of crime is happening during evening hours, Minneapolis Police aren't shifting resources to cover the most demanding parts of the day.

Data from the department from July 2022 reveals MPD is still staffing their three shifts- day, middle and dog (overnight) watch shifts at the First Precinct at relatively consistent levels throughout the day with about 20 cops assigned to each of the three shifts. During those day shifts, Fox 9 cameras found officers stationed around retail stores and construction sites.

Those records also show the officers being assigned to what is perhaps the most demanding shift and location are among the most inexperienced in the department.

More than 80% of those on the dog watch shift, which runs from 8:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., are new to the department in the last two years. Across all five police precincts, more than half of the newest cops are assigned to the dog watch shift.

FOX 9 reached out to Minneapolis Police interim chief Amelia Huffman for comment. Below are her responses.

With the majority of crime happening between the hours of 5 p.m. and 2 a.m., why have officer staffing numbers remained the same throughout each shift in the first precinct? 

Our regular patrols work through three shifts. The 10-hour daywatch stands alone. The mid- and overnight (or dog watch) shifts overlap to help address busiest times. This helps to manage caseload during what can be the busiest periods for our officers.

Our documented staffing shortage, as well as the shortage of law enforcement agencies (and truly industries) across the country, is well documented. We worked hard to mitigate staffing losses in equitable fashion throughout the city and we continue to base our resources on operational need and by using data and community feedback to address community safety needs.

How does seniority within the department factor into shift assignment?

Every year there is a shift bid, which is guided by labor agreement.

Why are the most inexperienced officers assigned to arguably the most demanding shift in one of the busiest areas for crime?

All officer shifts and assignments can be demanding and are important to the people in the precinct where officers are assigned and to the shift when they are assigned. As previously mentioned, seniority for officers does help to dictate assignment.

We also know that with the tempo that we are working to hire quality officers for our department, we are going to be a younger department.

Having said that, it’s important to note that all new officers go through not only our classroom-based academy training, but also extensive on-the-job training with qualified Field Training Officers, as well as regular annual departmental and POST required training. Even some of the officers newest to the department make a huge impact, as can be evidenced by last year’s Officer of the Year, Maiya Cain, assigned to the downtown area.

Additionally each precinct has strong leadership to help even the most junior officers serve the Minneapolis’ residents, businesses, and visitors.