Minneapolis residents call for return of traffic enforcement unit after uptick in violations

There is growing frustration in the city of Minneapolis after an uptick in crashes and traffic violations over the past few years.

People there say more needs to be done by police and the voices are getting louder. Now, the Mayor’s office is responding.

The problem remains, however, that the police department does not even have a traffic enforcement unit in the city.

Police say it’s not anyone’s imagination. Traffic crashes and violations are on the rise in the city.

“The problem is getting worse and, as Minneapolis moves forward to become more of a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly city, we have more people that are more vulnerable,” said John Elder, of Minneapolis PD. 

MPD says there is a reason it doesn’t have a traffic enforcement unit. The department also says not having such a unit is unusual for a city of this size.

“I do know that since our traffic enforcement unit disbanded in 2013, early 2014, our traffic enforcement has gone down 70 percent,” said Elder

After the unit was abolished, the department did assign one traffic enforcement squad per precinct.

“Each precinct has a traffic car that can be used if staffing allows,” Elder said. “However, there’s a fair amount of time that staffing doesn’t allow us to have that traffic car out and about.”

A letter backed by several residents has been sent to the Mayor’s office. It outlines the speeding problem, among other issues, and asks for fair and equitable traffic enforcement. Someone with the Mayor’s office is planning to meet with those concerned.

“We would like to have a unit that will not be responsible for responding to calls,” said Jenna Berrelli, a Minneapolis resident. “Only things that are traffic-related.”

“Yeah, I think it could benefit and just help people improve the quality of our streets and just how we are driving,” said Berelli.  

Councilor Phillipe Cunnginham’s office says he has always supported bringing back the traffic enforcement unit at the MPD.

Other councilors are also supportive of that, but how to do it has not been figured out yet as budget talks are only now getting underway.