In an effort to reinforce community policing, a new proposal would assign more officers to walk neighborhoods around the city.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey proposed adding 14 more officers to the Minneapolis Police Department’s ranks in his 2020 budget, which was presented Aug. 15. Eight of the officers would walk neighborhoods around the city, including Cedar-Riverside. City officials said they hope this will curb slow 911 response times and bolster MPD’s approach to interacting with community members. While the proposal has received support, some have said that adding officers will not fix issues within the department.
The potential increase in officers comes after MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo presented to the City Council’s public safety committee in July, saying that the department needs more officers. Arradondo said the department needs 400 more patrol officers by 2025, citing the city’s growing population and slow response times.
“Today, flashing lights are the only police response much of our city knows — because of diminished numbers, it’s the only one we presently allow for,” Frey said in his presentation. “If we aren’t going to step up and make transformational change now, with this chief, then when?”
Of the 14 new MPD officers, eight would be assigned to walk around neighborhoods as outreach officers and three to the department’s sex crimes and domestic violence investigations unit. The other three officers would help create a new traffic unit.
One of the eight outreach officers would be assigned to Cedar-Riverside, joining the neighborhood’s two current beat officers. Ward 6 council member Abdi Warsame said officers Daadir Galayr and Mohamud Jama have received positive feedback from the community since they were assigned to the area in February.
“It’s always important when you have police officers that are familiar with the community, that walk around and know the local businesses,” Warsame said. “Having an extra police officer helping them and being there on the ground will be helpful to the community.”
Russom Solomon, owner of Red Sea Bar and Grill, said interactions between police and community members are effective in building relationships and crime prevention.
“When police officers are out of the car and interacting with the community, they develop trust in the neighborhood and the people that they work with,” said Solomon, West Bank Business Association’s safety committee chair. “[They’re] developing a rapport, a relationship, and then they can identify problem issues and address them.”
Though the proposal for adding more officers has received support, there are concerns that other issues must be addressed in the department before increasing its size.
Michelle Gross, president of Minneapolis advocacy organization Communities United Against Police Brutality, said more officers are not the solution to improving community policing. Confronting the department’s methods of dealing with police conduct should come first, she said.
“The way you build trust is with accountability, [and] we have precious little accountability of police in this city," Gross said. “Hiring more officers isn’t going to fix that problem — what we need to do is address actual accountability issues. That will fix the problem.”