MPD officer incentive created to increase staffing numbers, ‘retain good cops’

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has announced an agreement between the city and the Police Federation of Minneapolis aimed at incentivizing police offers to stay on the job for more than two years as part of a plan to address Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) staffing shortages.

Frey announced the letter of agreement between representatives from both the city and the federation on Friday, saying it would create a "retention incentive" for current MPD officers, effective through April 15, 2024.

"We need to be able to recruit and retain police officers – that should be no surprise to anyone that’s been saying attention over these last several years. These officers are getting up every single day and doing an incredibly difficult job. That job is especially tough in the city of Minneapolis," Frey said. "They need to be compensated for this work."

The "retention incentives" could total up to $18,000 per eligible peace officer who stays employed with the MPD for at least three years, "from the beginning, through the end of the retention period," and who works an average of at least 35 hours per week during it. The date in which the incentive period would begin is still up for approval by the Minneapolis City Council.

Both the city and police federation are still negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, but in the agreement announced Friday, both that, "the city of Minneapolis has experienced a significant decrease in peace officer staffing levels since May of 2020," and its, "ability to retain employees is valuable to providing successful services to the residents and businesses."

According to the agreement, both the federation and the city, "express a desire to incentivize current officers to continue serving" during the staffing shortage, and while the new agreement is being negotiated.

"We are grateful to get this agreement signed. The retention and hiring incentive are a step in the right direction but will only go so far," the police federation said in a statement following the announcement of the agreement. "The bigger issue at hand is that the City of Minneapolis does not have pay that is competitive with competing agencies. We look forward to quickly working toward an amicable agreement with the city that recognizes the need for competitive wages, which will attract the best applicants and retain the officers we have."

Under the Minneapolis City Charter, the city has a legal duty to employ .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.

"We’ve tried to highlight the urgency in staffing for the Minneapolis Police Department. While we have slowed the pace, this department continues to bleed people. We need to stop that," MPD Police Chief Brian O’Hara said Friday. "We need to have improvements towards recruitments, and this is a step in the right direction."

For newly recruited officers, a first payment installment of $5,000 would be earned upon the officer’s successful completion of an initial probationary period. The second payment of $5,000 would be earned one year following the officer’s completion of the probationary period, and the final payment of $5,000 would be earned two full years after the probationary period completion.

Officers who were already employed with the department could receive the same bonus during the 2.5-year period for remaining with the MPD.

"This is pay so we’re competitive in both Minnesota and around the country," Frey said. "People are finding that we need to hold police officers accountable, but at the very same time, they are also doing a very tough job, and we need to make sure that we are paying for the kind of service and accountability that we expect on a daily basis."

The agreement also alters how the MPD can fill vacant shifts, allowing the positions to be filled in as soon as 10 days on the basis of seniority – a process that reportedly used to take several weeks.

MPD will be required to post a city-wide list of bid assignments for officers, with those interested putting in a request that is subject to review.

"It’s not just about paying officers more, it’s also about making sure our police chief has the authority to assign officers to a certain spot or shift," Frey said.