Minneapolis City Council members, who just two months ago moved to eliminate the police department, sounded the alarm during a Wednesday meeting about a surge in crime seen by their constituents.
Council members pressed police Chief Medaria Arradondo about the uptick in crimes that included daylight carjackings, robberies, assaults, shootings and street racing.
“Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police?’” said Council Member Jamal Osman, noting that constituents’ calls to the Minneapolis Police Department have gone unanswered. “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.
Council President Lisa Bender accused police of intentionally not enforcing laws or making arrests.
“This is not new,” Bender said. “But it is very concerning in the current context.”
Arradondo, who has served as police chief since 2017, called her comments “troubling to hear” and pledged to address the issue with departmental supervisors.
“We need to make sure that our communities know that we are going to be there, that we’re going to be responsive,” he said. “We’ve taken an oath to do that.”
The Minneapolis Police Department’s crime data shows a rise in assaults, robberies and homicides, as well as property crimes and arson, according to Minnesota Public Radio. More people have been killed in the city in the first nine months of 2020 than those slain in all of last year.
Arradondo said about 100 officers have left the department or have taken a leave of absence since the start of the year, which is more than double the typical number of officers who either step down from the department or are inactive that year, MPR reported.
In July, the council took several steps toward dismantling the city’s police department, including approving an amendment to remove $1 million from the police department and reallocate it toward the health department to hire “violence interrupters” who are intended to defuse potentially violent situations.
The council had pledged earlier in the summer to dismantle the police department and replace it with a community-based system of public safety.
The council began focusing on police reforms after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for close to nine minutes.
Floyd’s death, which was captured in a widely circulated bystander video, sparked protests — sometimes violent — that spread across the country. The officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death. One officer, Derek Chauvin, is charged with second-degree murder, while the three other officers who were present have been charged with aiding and abetting.