MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - For one of the first times, the top cop in Hennepin County is making clear where he stands on the public safety measure on the ballot in Minneapolis.
Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson says he’s opposed to a ballot measure that would do away with the police department and replace it with something new entirely. Hutchinson says while the details of the plan are unclear, he worries if it passes emergency response will fall on his office.
"We will assist every way we can, but we cannot -- nor can any other law enforcement agency in the state -- take 911 calls for Minneapolis. We don’t have the resources. Nobody does," said Hutchinson, who went before the Hennepin County Board Thursday to request funding to hire 30 additional deputies.
With violent crime rates soaring in Minnesota and repeated civil unrest the last two years, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has been the safety net for overwhelmed police departments recently and he says his office is stretched thin.
"If you’re in Hennepin County, you have my 100 percent dedication that I will do whatever I can to keep you safe while you’re here but I need a functioning Minneapolis Police Department, just like I need a functioning New Hope Police Department. We need to be partners," he said.
Proponents of the ballot measure say the city needs a multi-layer approach to public safety which includes mental health professionals and social workers. While the amendment would eliminate the requirement to employ police officers within the city, proponents say they don’t plan on doing away with police completely.
"Everything they’re talking about we’re already doing," said Hutchinson. "Everything they’re talking about—social workers, etc. the Sheriff’s Office is already doing it and Minneapolis would do it if they had proper staffing."