Minneapolis officials are considering bringing in officers from other jurisdictions to help the city’s Police Department as they face a wave of violent crime and an officer shortage.
If the mayor and City Council approve the plan, officers from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit Police would temporarily work with the city, primarily helping to respond to violent 911 calls.
“We’re not gonna be having these people out taking bicycle theft reports. These are going to be people out combating crime issues,” said John Elder, a spokesman for Minneapolis police.
The officers would form Joint Enforcement Teams, known as JETs. Elder said the city has relied on such teams in the past, particularly to help in areas where violence was spiking.
The city would reimburse the Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit Police for the officers they supply. It estimates the cost at just shy of $497,000, money that would be taken out of the city’s contingency fund.
The initial proposal calls for the teams to form Nov. 15 and run through the end of the year.
Council Member Linea Palmisano, who supports the supplementary patrols, said she also hopes they’ll be able to continue them in the 2021 budget, which will be finalized next month.
“We’re barely able to cover the shifts that we have,” Palmisano said. “We really can’t allocate additional police officers for on-duty shifts.”
Mayor Jacob Frey supports the arrangement, according to his office.
The proposal will come before the council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee on Tuesday. If it passes there, it will likely come up for a final council vote on Friday and then to the mayor for approval.
The proposal comes about five months after a majority of council members promised to work toward “ending” the Police Department following George Floyd’s death.
The city has struggled to combat a wave of violent crime, recording 74 homicides so far this year.
At the same time, an abnormally large number of officer departures following Floyd’s death and the subsequent unrest has strained the department’s resources. Some officers have filed PTSD claims.
Minneapolis is fighting a lawsuit by a group of local activists who say the city is operating below the level of officers mandated by the city charter. Based on the latest published census estimates for Minneapolis, the charter requires about 730 police employees.
The city, in court filings, denied that it was violating any mandates. According to an affidavit filed in the case, the city employed 844 officers on Oct. 1, down from 877 at the beginning of the year. The number of civilian employees also dropped from 176 to 143.
Of the 987 people employed by the department on Oct. 1, nearly 100 were on a leave lasting more than two weeks. The bulk of them were officers.