MPD seeks $27 million budget increase as voters weigh department's fate

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo asked City Council members for a $27 million budget increase Monday to rebuild his shrinking force, even as voters weigh his department's fate.

City voters will decide Nov. 2 whether to get rid of MPD and allow future city councils and mayors to decide how to staff a new public safety agency. The election comes in the middle of the city's annual budget process, meaning MPD officials must prepare a spending plan as if their agency will exist.

The $27 million pays for salary increases, new in-squad cameras, additional staff, and soaring workers' compensation claims filed by departing officers. Since January 2020, 296 officers have left MPD, police said in a document filed with City Council.

"We are at an inflection point in our city," Arradondo told City Council's Budget Committee. "I will tell you what is not acceptable is to have any more reductions right now in our sworn capacity to respond to the incidents of gun violence, the incidents of carjackings, and homicides that have occurred in our city."

Homicides and nonfatal gunshot wounds are running double the pace of 2019, according to police data.

Arradondo said the city has 307 patrol officers responding to 911 calls, the lowest of his 30-year career.

Of the 296 officers who have left the force, more than 200 have filed workers' compensation claims. The total price tag for settlements is expected to reach more than $35 million.

While agency heads are testifying now, City Council will not decide the final budget until December -- one month after voters chart MPD's future. A yes vote means City Council will be approving a budget for the new public safety agency instead of MPD.

Activists with Yes 4 Minneapolis collected enough signatures to get the police charter amendment on the November ballot after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.