Minneapolis Police address 'bare minimum' staffing in 5th Precinct

Some South Minneapolis residents are voicing concerns about staffing at the city’s Fifth Police Precinct. The commander of the precinct confirms that some nights there are only eight officers on patrol covering 20 neighborhoods.

 Minneapolis Deputy Chief Erick Fors said the department is short on officers. The reason, he says, ranges from early retirements to hiring freezes to dozens of officers on medical leave, mixed with COVID-19 challenges, like officers having to stay home and quarantine if they’re exposed to COVID-19.

“So yes, that’s considerably less than an authorized total strength of 888 officers, so that requires us to look at our resources, look at our demands, again focus on our core services and move resources around as needed,” Fors said.

Fifth Precinct Inspector Amelia Huffman posted a statement about the staffing levels on a community Facebook group, saying some nights, only eight officers are on patrol in the southwestern corner of the city. She said it was the “bare minimum.”

Fors said while eight officers may seem light, even full staffing requires constantly shifting resources from precinct to precinct.

“When people pick up the phone and call 911, they expect a timely response and we recognize that and we realize that is our core service,” said Fors. “So, if we have to move people around and make changes in order to maintain that, we’re going to do so.”

Fors told FOX 9 the department is not really concerned about the staffing levels. They are not at the point where they need to call in for day-to-day help from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, but they do rely on those partnerships for big events like riots.

Fors also said, because of COVID-19, some officers aren’t able to perform their normal duties like holding community outreach events, so they’re able to use those resources to make up for short staffing.

Statement from Inspector Amelia Huffman, of the 5th precinct:

"I had hoped to increase the sworn staffing in the precinct as the 20  neighborhoods that make up Southwest Minneapolis continue to grow, but that’s not going to be possible right now. The overall number of sworn  officers in the Department  is shrinking through retirement and other attrition and the number of  officers and investigators assigned here is smaller than it was a few  months ago. Nonetheless, responding to 911 calls and providing patrols  in the community are our primary functions and  we will continue to shift Departmental resources to prioritize staffing  for those critical functions.  

Currently, our bare minimum staffing  level is eight officers on the street answering calls and patrolling in  those 20 neighborhoods while one officer staffs  the precinct desk to help people who call or visit the precinct. On some days we have a few more than eight on the street.  We also have two  shifts that overlap during the busy nightlife period from 9:00 pm to  2:00 am. That generally allows us to dedicate  officers to responding to nightlife issues in Uptown. I hope to maintain that bare minimum staffing level for as long as possible. While there is uncertainty about how events will unfold in the City, officers in the 5th Precinct will continue  to be here at whatever staffing level is allocated to respond to  emergencies and to work with community members toward safer and more  peaceful neighborhoods."