Is Minneapolis hopping on the "refund the police" bandwagon?

AP Photo/John Minchillo

A couple of weeks ago, when Ed Morrissey looked at the number of cities that have already moved away from “defund the police,” heading toward plans to “refund the police,” there was one notable location missing from the list. Cities in Texas, Illinois, New York, and even California had started to hit the panic button as they got a glimpse of what a world without police (or at least significantly fewer police) looks like and began pushing to bring their law enforcement ranks back up to snuff. But Minneapolis, currently in the midst of one of the worst crime waves seen in generations, stubbornly continued toward election day with a referendum on the ballot that would allow them to replace their entire police department with a “public safety department.” Now, however, with barely two weeks left before the vote, something may be changing. The city’s Chief of Police addressed the City Council this week and boldly requested a huge, $27 million increase in the police budget for next year. This very public move will put the Council on the line to decide which direction they will support. (CBS Minnesota)

The Minneapolis Police Department has lost nearly 300 officers since last year as violent crime surges in the city, depleting resources to respond adequately, Chief Medaria Arradondo told the city council Monday.

In a budget presentation seeking $27 million more in funding for the department in 2022, Arradondo said there are 598 active sworn officers this year compared to 853 in 2019. The budget proposal calls for increased funding to rebuild core services.

The patrol bureau, tasked with responding to 911 calls, has lost 131 officers — which Arradondo says is the staffing equivalent of an entire precinct.

Even some of the previous supporters of abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department are starting to look nervously over their shoulders. A mass shooting in their sister city of St. Paul a couple of weeks ago has everyone on edge. Minneapolis has already been forced to eliminate its gang unit and illegal gun unit. Don’t think that the gangs haven’t noticed, either. There have been 75 homicides and 530 shootings so far this year, increases of 114% and 138% respectively compared to the same point in 2019. Robbery, arson, and aggravated assault are also up across the board.

It just feels as if there is some sort of reckoning at hand in Minneapolis right now. This has been a very messy and very public debate. Liberal politicians have clearly been driven by a comparatively small but extremely vocal group of BLM supporters toward a reckless approach to law enforcement. And now there is a proposal on the table to go even further in wiping out much of the remaining law enforcement resources, all in the name of the memory of George Floyd.

Unfortunately, it sounds as if they’ve played the George Floyd card several times too many. The circumstances of his death made him a sympathetic figure and plenty of residents were quick to rally around calls for police reform. But the results have been grim. As nearly any sentient being could have predicted (to steal another quote from Mr. Morrissey), when the police force was vastly diminished in numbers and the gang and illegal gun task forces disappeared, the usual suspects took those developments as a sign that the door to the candy store was now unlocked. The bloodshed and arson that followed are directly related to the reduction in law enforcement and the public is clearly waking up to that fact.

Under these conditions, will the voters be willing to go through with a plan to replace the Police Department? Will the City Council really be able to turn down the request from the Police Chief for more funding and the replacement of his lost officers? We should know soon enough, but if I’m forced to look into my crystal ball, I would guess that a big course reversal is on the way. And if the municipal officials don’t deliver, the voters may finally be forced to remove them and replace them with people who will.