Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman rolled out a new crime-fighting plan that calls for hiring dozens of police officers, expanding partnerships with other law enforcement agencies and beefing up units focused on investigating violent robberies and carjackings, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Frey said the department plans to hire five recruit classes to help close a staffing gap created by the departures of hundreds of officers since the murder of George Floyd in 2020. For now, the mayor said, the department was directing its resources to areas that need it most, including assigning officers to neighborhoods where stolen vehicles are frequently abandoned. Frey's comments came two months after an election in which voters rejected a ballot measure that would have replaced the police department with an agency that would take more of a public health approach to crime prevention.
Since the start of 2020, the department has lost 300 officers, creating significant staffing shortages. Whether the department should return to its size in early 2020, when it had nearly 900, will be hotly debated in the coming months. The Minneapolis charter sets a minimum requirement for staffing based on population levels, about 715 total employees. Though the Nov. 2 ballot measure was defeated, proponents argue that the campaign around Question 2, as the proposal was called, changed the conversation around policing. They say that more people are open to consider alternative strategies for keeping communities safe beyond traditional law enforcement. David Bicking of the advocacy group Communities United Against Policy Brutality said any move to hire more officers should be based on "best practices and research nationwide" and not be a "knee-jerk" reaction to rising crime.