The Minneapolis City Council has unanimously approved a $6.4 million increase to the police budget, despite a push by local activists to replace the police with a new public safety department.
Minneapolis was roiled by civil unrest in May and June after an officer killed African American resident George Floyd during an attempted arrest. Rioters burned down the officer’s precinct and destroyed businesses in the city, and Floyd’s death sparked massive protests and riots throughout U.S. cities, with demonstrators calling to “defund” police departments.
The City Council voted on Friday to provide its police department with $6.4 million to hire and train new recruits. The department says it began 2020 with 817 officers but ended the year with 638 officers available to work.
While some officers resigned or retired after the summer riots, 155 officers are currently on extended leave, with many of those claiming post-traumatic stress disorder.
Amid the demonstrations and an ongoing pandemic, the U.S. recorded a massive increase in murders in 2020 across the entire country. One analyst found that murders increased by about 37 percent across 57 large police jurisdictions.
Minneapolis recorded a 21 percent increase in all violent crime, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Residents have complained that police response times have been slower in the months since the riots, and have pleaded with the City Council to allow for the hiring of new officers.
Even so, three council members have written a proposal to replace the police with a new public safety department that would reduce the mayor’s authority over the police. A local political group called Yes 4 Minneapolis is also collecting signatures for a petition to replace the police with a new agency that would take a “comprehensive public health approach to safety.” The group was funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Open Society Policy Center, the lobbying arm of philanthropist George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Star Tribune reported.