Minneapolis Crime and Defund the Police Movement: Are Wheels Of Change Turning?

After the police killed George Floyd in May 2020, Minneapolis became a global icon of the police violence that Black people have long suffered disproportionately. The city became the hub of the seismically influential “Defund the Police” movement in a sort of Newtonian reaction, reports say. However, a resounding referendum last November ended that progressive municipal endeavor. The 425,000-person city is currently attempting to move ahead in the midst of an increase in crime that started soon after Floyd’s passing and is being investigated by the Department of Justice, according to reports.

Despite a little cooling this year, the number of killings and violent crimes overall are still much higher than in 2019 and are on track to surpass the 2020 total. The current conundrum is: why do citizens, especially in the seedier parts of north Minneapolis, still feel neglected by police and fear for their safety if the police budget has been restored and all anti-cop protesting by politicians and activists that left officers demoralized has weakened to a whimper?

Residents feel the police have withdrawn from violent neighborhoods after the Floyd incident. Their sentiments are the criminals are celebrating, making money by selling drugs openly. A climate of mistrust has been cultivated in Minneapolis as a result of the current level of crime and policing, which includes delayed response times, recent reports of brutality, and low clearance rates.

Leaders of the Minneapolis Police Department claim that they are facing a loss of more than a third of the officer workforce, citing declining morale in the wake of the upheaval following Floyd’s murder. Longer response times are an expected side effect of a diminished force that has experienced a sizable wave of retirements, resignations, and disability leaves due to post-traumatic stress.

The “defund” effort was soundly defeated by Minneapolis voters, who also decided to enhance the mayor’s office and re-elect Frey, who had emerged as the face of moderate Democrats turned off by the party’s most extreme wing, reports say.

Mayor Jacob Frey has said that some of his budget objectives are in direct response to the findings, and the city is currently negotiating with the human rights department about the consent decree. Another budget increase is being proposed by Mayor Frey for the upcoming two fiscal years. The city’s community safety commissioner, Cedric Alexander, will work on the first step in the proposed plan: to bring 911, police, fire, neighborhood safety, and emergency management under one umbrella.

The MPD is attempting to recruit young talent by offering incentives, such as paying for potential hires’ tuition who need law-enforcement coursework but just have a high school diploma. With the recent announcement of three contenders for the permanent chief role, which Chief Amelia Huffman has been holding on an interim basis since December, the city has made progress in filling the top position. All three of the finalists are from outside of Minneapolis.

The wheels of change on the policy front appear to be turning, albeit slowly, reports say.

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