Minneapolis police retention bonuses in doubt; Frey calls special meeting

Collectively signaling doubt about the effectiveness of a proposal to provide current and potential Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers with retention bonuses as a way to increase staffing levels, the Minneapolis City Council and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey remain at odds with a tentative agreement between the city and police union.

Last week, Frey announced an agreement between the city and the Police Federation of Minneapolis aimed at incentivizing police officers to stay on the job for more than three years.

The "retention incentives" would total up to $18,000 per eligible officer who stays employed with the MPD, "from the beginning, through the end of the retention period," and who works an average of at least 35 hours per week during it.

However, the fate of the proposal remains in doubt after the city council voted 7-5 against the agreement at a budget meeting Tuesday morning. The tentative agreement would provide up to $15.3 million in sign-on and retention bonuses.

"We have serious staffing issues, and it’s time we start working towards actual solutions, and data shows that sign-on and retention bonuses aren’t solutions," said council member Emily Koski in a statement following the vote.

Frey called a special meeting with the city council following the vote, to be held on Nov. 17, prior to the proposal being brought before a budget committee meeting on Dec. 5.

Council President Andrea Jenkins, Vice President Linea Palmisano and council members LaTrisha Vetaw, Lisa Goodman and Michael Rainville voted to approve the agreement, while Koski, Jamal Osman, Elliot Payne, Robin Wonsley, Jason Chavez, Aisha Chughtai and Jeremiah Ellison voted against it.

"City staff worked tirelessly to reach an agreement — signed just last week — to help recruit and retain police officers and deliver a significant managerial reform for Chief O’Hara and the department," Frey said in a statement. "I’m calling this special meeting because Minneapolis residents rightly expect us to explore every option to attract and retain officers and reform the police department."

Under the Minneapolis City Charter, the city has a legal duty to employ 0.0017 sworn peace officers per Minneapolis resident, as confirmed by the Minnesota Supreme Court during a case that challenged the MPD was too understaffed to effectively perform its duties.