A group of Minneapolis residents are suing the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey for failing to manage the city’s police force amid a surge in violent crime, Alpha News reported.
The eight residents allege that the recent actions of the City Council and mayor have driven out officers, which the leaders have no plans to replace as the city moves toward plans to defund the police, Alpha News reported.
“Minneapolis is in a crisis. The city faces a violent crime rate that has skyrocketed this year. It is the responsibility of the City Council and the Mayor to make Minneapolis safe. Instead, the City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey have violated their duties to fund, employ and manage a police force as required by the City Charter,” states the lawsuit, which was filed in Hennepin County District Court.
More than 150 Minneapolis police officers began the process to file disability claims in July following the death of George Floyd and subsequent riots and protests. Most officers reported suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mentioned the exhaustion of working long shifts without support from city leadership. (RELATED: Attorney Says 150 Minneapolis Police Officers Filed Disability Claims, Mostly For PTSD, Following George Floyd Death)
At least 80 officers have retired or quit in recent months, and by the end of July more than 200 had applied for disability. By the end of the year, the number of officers could sink to as little as 500 — far below the required 743 officers — according to Alpa News. Frey reportedly doesn’t plan to replace the officers due to a citywide hiring freeze.
“Rather than work to improve public safety, the City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey are making the city unsafe for its citizens, thus requiring this Court’s intervention,” it says.
“The safety of our families and community require an adequately staffed and deployed police force. The actions of the City Council and Mayor Frey in driving out unprecedented numbers of Minneapolis police officers, and then canceling all hiring of replacements, endangers our community, our residents and our children,” said Cathy Spann, one of the suit’s eight plaintiffs, who are represented by the Upper Midwest Law Center, Alpha News reported.
Following the death of George Floyd in May, the Minneapolis City Council proposed dismantling the police department. The proposal will not appear on November ballots for voters to decide on the issue because a Charter Commission chose to take additional time to review the proposal after determining in August that it was rushed and gave the city councils too much power.
Dozens of Minneapolis businesses have expressed concerns with the prospect of the police department being dismantled, reporting in a survey that they are considering leaving downtown.
“We demand the City Council and Mayor comply with the Charter and, rather than ‘defund the police,’ take all necessary steps to increase the number of police in active service to the minimum of 743 officers required by the City Charter,” Spann continued.
The lawsuit asks the court to order the mayor and city council to meet the minimum number of officers as well as to take the steps to train and fund them. A chair of the Upper Midwest Law Center stated that while the city council claims this number of officers is not required for public safety, the city pays more than $150,000 for private armed security for its council members.
“While the City Council claims that the Charter-required minimum number of armed police is not required for public safety, when it comes to their own safety, their actions stink of hypocrisy,” chair of the Upper Midwest Law Center Howard Root said in a press release.
“So at the same time the City Council has determined that the citizens require less police protection, they have hired their own special private police force to provide added security for themselves at taxpayer expense,” he continued, according to Alpha News.