It seems like just yesterday that the Minneapolis PD (along with city leadership) were abandoning the city's third precinct to a chaotic mob assembled in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.
Not even nine months later - has led to a surge in violent crime as the city struggles from its largest wave of defections in history.
Who could have seen that coming?
While hundreds of thousands of Minneapolis residents have been left to struggle with the consequences, the city's police department is quietly rushing to hire dozens of new officers (all of whom meet new conduct standards devised by the department and city leadership). City leadership has voted to spend $6.4MM on a "recruiting campaign" to hire new officers, after the city's "available for service" headcount plummeted to 638 officers "available", roughly 200 short of the average headcount from before the riots, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.
Even though three members of the city council voted to defund the department in the aftermath of last year's unrest, the council quietly, and unanimously, approved the money requested by the department.
An unprecedented number of officers quit or went on extended medical leave after Floyd's death and the unrest that followed. With its incoming recruiting class, the city anticipates that it will have a total of 674 officers available to service by the end of the year, with another 28 in the hiring process.
Days before this most recent City Council vote, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo promised an "update" to the application process for police recruits to include questions about whether they have have lived in Minneapolis, have degrees in criminology, social work, psychology or counseling, and whether they volunteer or participate in programs such as the Police Activities League. Deputy Police Chief Amelia Huffman said the department leadership hopes the change "will help us to really feel confident that we are recruiting the kinds of candidates we want right from the beginning."
Meanwhile, as Mayor Frey continues his pleas to the city council not to de-fund the department (since that could create some pretty serious quality of life concerns in his city, like, well, anarchy and chaos, even with the bad winter weather gripping the US) Minneapolis has seen a surge in violent crime in a pattern that has plagued other protest-torn cities (some have dubbed it "the Ferguson Effect" after the small St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was killed).
In addition to the funding for the recruitment campaign, the city also authorized a nearly $230K contract with risk management company Hillard Heintze, which is expected to produce a report analyzing the city's response to the rioting that followed Floyd's death.
And what's more, "grass roots" campaigns seeking to collect more signatures to help permanently banish the department have taken root.
'Yes 4 Minneapolis', a coalition of local community groups, is also collecting signatures to try to get a similar proposal aimed at "defunding" the "bad" Minneapolis Police Department, and using the money to build a new department of public safety in the city, on the ballot in November. Organizers are hoping to collect 20K signatures before March 31, with non-profit money that comes from a number of places, including a half-million-dollar-grant from the George Soros-linked Open Society Policy Center.
Incidentally, the (sure-to-be highly publicized) trial of police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with second-degree murder in Floyd's killing, and three officers charged with abetting murder, is set to start next month.
Unfortunately for the department, we doubt Chauvin's trial will help morale - rather, it will likely serve as a potent counter-narrative for anybody even thinking about joining the department.