Frey 'actively considering' veto to budget over reduction in Minneapolis police staffing

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he is "actively considering" a veto if the City Council approves the budget plan, which would reduce the amount of sworn officers in the Minneapolis Police Department.

Frey released a statement Monday night after the Minneapolis Budget Committee approved the budget amendments put forth by three council members as part of the "Safety for All" plan, which will redirect $7.7 million from the Minneapolis Police Department to fund alternative public safety strategies, such as mental health crisis teams. The plan also decreases the sworn strength of MPD to 750 officers in 2022 and beyond, a change Frey called "irresponsible."

"Pre-emptively reducing the sworn capacity by 138 officers prior to having alternative responses in place or completing the mutually-agreed upon staffing study is irresponsible," said Frey in a statement. "We’ve given the Council every opportunity to join us in a both-and approach that gives Chief Arradondo the flexibility he needs to move forward and ability to scale up new safety solutions. Last week, we joined private, faith, and community leaders to launch a new, $5 million initiative that would better integrate mental health and social services into our emergency response system. We continue to stand ready to collaborate and support the safety beyond policing initiatives, but I am actively considering a veto due to the massive, permanent cut to officer capacity."

Council President Lisa Bender, who was a co-author of "Safety for All," said the plan is a step forward for the city.

"Today the City Council was able to come together, after a robust discussion of the details, to support the Safety for All Budget Plan’s strategic investments in violence prevention, mental health crisis response, common-sense shifts from MPD for report-only calls and traffic response, and increased oversight over MPD’s budget," said Council President Lisa Bender in a statement. "Approving these strategic, incremental budget changes is one step toward making good on our shared commitment to a City that is both safe and just."

The proposed budget has been hotly debated by the council and the community. Last week, a public hearing on the budget lasted into the early morning hours.

The City of Minneapolis moved up the start time of Wednesday's public hearing on the city's 2021 budget due to the amount of interested speakers. The public hearing will now start on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and will end at 9:30 p.m. Each speaker will be allowed to speak for one minute.

Following the comment period at Wednesday's hearing, the council will vote on the budget.