On May 28, 2020, my life changed forever. I am the daughter of a Minneapolis police officer who has served for 24 years. My partner, the woman I love, is also a cop. The riots that occurred over the days before May 28 were destructive and terrifying. But for me they pale compared to what happened that night.
The first text came from my partner: “It’s not good, Bri.” The texts kept coming. My dad: “People are trying to take the precinct.” My heart sank.
More updates: Situation worsening, crowd growing, anger, violence. Trapped.
I feared I’d lose my dad and partner on the same night. Was this really happening?
My dad reached out on FaceTime. “If something goes wrong, I want you to know you’re the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
A few hours later, the precinct burned. Panic. Desperation. Until word came: My loved ones were safe.
The riots eventually subsided. The verbal and personal attacks have continued. This is the new normal for my dad and my partner: “A good cop is a dead cop.” “How could anyone love you?” “You shouldn’t be alive.”
Knowing them the way I do, I assure you my dad and my partner are just like you and me. They’re human, with good hearts. They care. They do good. Those awful words cut to the core.
What you may not see is the good policing that happens every day, another side of this “defund” debate.
One of my favorite stories: The day my partner arrived home grinning ear to ear. While patrolling, she’d noticed a child’s party and spontaneously dropped in. The birthday boy talked about wanting a bike. So my partner got one from the “Bike Cops For Kids” program. She’ll never forget the joy on that little boy’s face when she returned with his first bike!
It’s the same with my dad. There’s that Christmas Eve when he and another officer came across a group of homeless men and women. They went to a store and returned with diapers, formula, canned food, warm clothes. “Here you go, merry Christmas.”
Those are moments officers live for. Moments that affirm why they’re in this line of work.
Know this: Police officers grasp the damage that a few of their number have done. They understand the anger. They know trust must be rebuilt.
But, please, try to see the other side I see every day.
Despite hostility, despite danger, my dad and my partner show up every day and do their jobs. So do hundreds of other officers. But as you know, many are leaving. The mass exodus is devastating the department — and the safety of Minneapolis residents, workers and visitors.
More than 100 officers — good cops — have left or soon will. They can’t take the abuse anymore. Equally deflating is the lack of City Council support. Not all council members, but most of them. You know who they are.
Here’s what should concern you: It’s budget season. The mayor has proposed a $14 million cut for the police — at a time when the force is depleted, demoralized and unable to keep up with rampant crime. Yet the City Council wants to cut even more deeply. This will only drive more officers out. Who will be left to protect the city? Where does this stop?
Despite the cuts, the mayor’s budget does add more officers. Plus more overtime to bridge the gap until new recruits arrive. There’s money for community service officers. And for more mental health professionals to respond to calls from emotionally disturbed people — so badly needed in these times.
Call me biased, but how can anyone watching the nightly news suggest a $14 million cut isn’t enough? How bad must things get before common sense takes hold? If you’re alarmed, I encourage you to visit safetynowmpls.com. Educate yourself and sign up to object at the council budget hearings Nov. 16 or Dec. 2.
There are hundreds of officers who are nothing like the negative image some have developed. Let’s build on the good that exists within the department. Give those officers the resources they need to keep us safe. Support them, speak for them — stop this exodus. Stop these budget cuts.
Brianna McGinty lives in Brooklyn Park.