Residents file lawsuit against Minneapolis over decreased police staffing levels

Some are calling it an “exodus” as more officers within the Minneapolis Police Department look to take medical leave or leave the department permanently. As the staffing levels decrease, some concerned residents are filing a lawsuit against city.

“Every night in the Jordan neighborhood on any given block from Emerson to Lowry, you hear gunshots every night,” said Cathy Spann, a Minneapolis resident.

Spann is worried for her city and she’s afraid there’s no one to call for help.

“What do we do? Who do we call if the city council says we’re going to dismantle and defund your police department?” said Spann. 

She’s one of eight Minneapolis residents and community leaders who are suing the mayor and city council, saying the current police levels are below what city charter legally requires.

“If the officers don’t feel like they have support what do they do? They’re leaving their jobs,” she said.

The charter requires a certain number of officers based on city population. Currently, that total is around 730 officers.

According to the City of Minneapolis, as of last week, MPD had 856 sworn positions.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis says that current department strength is at 740 officers with 66 on some kind of leave. Authorized strength is 888 officers. More officers are in the process of filing for medical and disability leave.

“Since June 1, we’ve been retained by over 175 Minneapolis police officers to pursue workers’ compensation and PERA duty disability claims,” said Ron Meuser of Meuser, Yackley and Rowland law firm.

Attorney Meuser represents many of those officers. He says a good number of them are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’ve never seen anything like what we’re seeing today in terms of the sheer numbers of first responders seeking to leave their careers due to physical and mental disabilities,” said Meuser.

Numbers could dip even lower. The mayor announced earlier this month, he expects 100 officers to leave the department by year’s end and they won’t be replaced because of the city’s hiring freeze.

“We got to try harder to come together because this right here we’re going to destroy this city,” said Spann.