And so far, the Minneapolis city council still seems utterly lost on the point. Crime has jumped by double digits in the city, and homicides and gun violence have already hit 15-year records, as the Star Tribune noted yesterday, with seven weeks yet to go in 2020. Yet when police chief Medaria Arradondo went to the city council this week to explain that the sudden reduction in staffing and the rise in crime required an emergency infusion of resources, the same city council who fueled both of those trends with their “abolish the police” strategy wondered what Arradondo was doing with his current budget.
Arradondo was more polite and professional about it than I would have been (via the Daily Wire):
With dozens of people dead and roughly 500 wounded by gunfire so far in 2020 — the highest tally in at least 15 years — residents have been begging city leaders for a strategy to stem the violence.
With an unprecedented number of officers on leave, Arradondo pleaded for money to bring in help from nearby departments.
“Resources are hemorrhaging. Our city is bleeding at this moment. I’m trying to do all I can to stop that bleeding,” the chief said.
Councilor Steve Fletcher griped that the city was already paying $185 million for police, and that they had cut back on community-policing initiatives already. Where were those resources, Fletcher wondered?
“So, we’re going to take a thing that has not been working very well and has not been addressing carjackings, has not been addressing the rise in violent crime … and say if we just do 5% more of it, that will get us to a better place. I’m struggling to get my head around why that is a good idea,” Fletcher said.
Arradondo pushed back hard, saying 74 people have been killed and nearly 500 shot and wounded in Minneapolis this year.
“We can go back and forth on the $185 million but that is not stopping the bloodshed that is occurring every day in our city,” the chief said.
Here’s a clip of that exchange, in which a clearly angry Arradondo tells Fletcher and the rest of the council to stop playing games. Ninety percent of the police budget goes to salaries and benefits, he explains, so there aren’t any extra resources laying around for this crime wave. “If you choose to say no to these victims of crime,” Arradondo blasted Fletcher, “then please stand by that”:
Just to repeat: the police budget was set a year ago, long before this crime wave took place. The crime wave took place in large part thanks to the reaction of local government to its own police force, making the entire force the bogeyman instead of their own complete failure to properly oversee it. Officers fled through retirements, disability claims, or just flat-out quitting, while police recruiting became useless while the council talked about completely disbanding the force.
The Strib’s numbers suggest that the force has lost 20% of its effective manpower since May and the death of George Floyd:
At the beginning of the year, the department had 874 police officers, seven of whom were on some form of leave. As of Monday, it had 834 officers, 121 of whom were on leave, according to spokesman John Elder. Some of the officers on leave have filed PTSD claims stemming from their response to the unrest that followed Floyd’s death.
All of that signaled an environment of impunity to criminals in the area. They have reacted as one would easily predict to such signals and incentives, as did police who grasped that the council would not support them in future confrontations regardless of the circumstances. After all, why should they stick their necks out for a city that wants to fire them?
If the council isn’t willing to confront crime and still sees police as the bigger problem, then it isn’t “bull [expletive]” and “insincere” to tell them to defend that position with their constituents, as councilor Jeremiah Ellison claimed. It’s called accountability, and the Minneapolis city council has been ducking it long enough.
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