In probably one of the most ironic moments of this year, members of the Minneapolis City Council asked the city’s police chief how his department was responding to the city’s rise in violent crime just months after the council led an effort to defund the police department.
MPR News reports even though the two-hour session was to study police reform, council members told police Chief Medaria Arradondo that their constituents were reporting street racing, brazen daylight carjackings, robberies, assaults, and shootings. Then they asked Arradondo what the department is doing about it.
“Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police?'” said Jamal Osman, newly elected council member of Ward 6. He said he’s already been inundated with complaints from residents that calls for police aren’t being answered.
“That is the only public safety option they have at the moment. MPD. They rely on MPD. And they are saying they are nowhere to be seen,” Osman said.
The number of reported violent crimes, like assaults, robberies, and homicides is up compared to 2019, according to MPD crime data. More people have been killed in the city in the first nine months of 2020 than were slain in all of last year. Property crimes, like burglaries and auto thefts, are also up. Incidents of arson have increased 55 percent over the total at this point in 2019, according to MPR News.
Arradondo told the council the department is stepping up to the task, adding more officers to patrol problem areas, and investigating crimes.
Council President Lisa Bender told the chief that her constituents said police officers are not arresting criminals.
“We need to make sure that our communities know that we are going to be there,” Arradondo said. “That we’re going to be responsive. We’ve taken an oath to do that.”
The chief also said around 100 officers have left the department or taken leave since the beginning of the year – more than double the usual number.
And Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham said, “What I am sort of flabbergasted by right now is colleagues, who a very short time ago were calling for abolition, are now suggesting we should be putting more resources and funding into MPD.”
As CBN News reported in June, following the police killing of George Floyd in May, nine members of the city council vowed to disband the police department. They later voted to remove the police department from the city charter, but that action is on hold now that the Minneapolis Charter Commission voted last month to take more time to review the plan.
The council proposed replacing the police department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention which would provide a “holistic, public health-oriented approach,” and a Division of Law Enforcement Services, according to the National Review.