MINNEAPOLIS is looking to draft in more cops amid a huge surge in violent crime – months after it decided to defund its own police force.
The drastic move comes after dozens of officers quit in protest at massive budget cuts and the city's decision to dismantle the force in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
After civic leaders made the shock move, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said that criminals in the Minnesota city had been left feeling “emboldened.”
Now the hard-hit city is pleading for reinforcements from the sheriff's office and the transit authority to help combat a worrying rise in violence, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Reports of civil unrest, homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and arson have all spiraled in recent months, official figures reveal.
The $500,000 plan to bring in reinforcements – by as early as this weekend -is now due to be voted on by the City Council before being sent to the mayor for approval.
“We’re not gonna be having these people out taking bicycle theft reports. These are going to be people out combating crime issues,” said John Elder, a spokesman for Minneapolis police.
And civic leaders say the move couldn't come quick enough.
Council Member Linea Palmisano told the Star Tribune: "We’re barely able to cover the shifts that we have."
At the start of the year, the Minneapolis force employed a total of 1,053 staff – 877 of them cops.
That number had dropped to 987 by last month with just 844 officers on the beat.
Violent crime is now up more than 20 per cent compared to this time last year, according to Police Chief Arradondo.
The surge comes as his department is also bracing for about $12 million in further cuts.
After Floyd’s death – which sparked violent protests in Minneapolis and across the US – the city faced mounting calls to overhaul its police department.
In June, the City Council announced that a veto-proof majority had voted to dissolve the department -a proposal opposed by both the mayor and Arradondo.
The mayor has called for “sweeping structural reform” of the department but has resisted calls to defund the city’s police force completely.
The council then voted to move more than $1m from the police department's budget and fund what it called "civilian violence interrupters" instead.
The "well-trained and unarmed" staff are designed to "mediate violent conflicts and help prevent further trouble."
However, since then violence in the city has rokceted.
In 2019 there were 49 homicides. however that figure is already up to 74 with seven weeks of the year left.
Other violent crime soared by nearly 15 per cent in the first nine months of the year.
Robberies rose from 931 to 1,275 (37 per cent) and cases of aggravated assault increased from 1,750 in 2019 to 2,100 this year (up 20 per cent).
A group of black men armed with AR-15s began patrolling the city's streets after the death of Floyd to "fight for racial justice".
Calling themselves the Minnesota Freedom Fighters, the group have been praised by officials in the city.
They maintain that despite carrying weapons, they don't want to be the police – but instead want to be "the bridge to link the police and community together."
"It's important to have men from the community step up for the community," Sasha Cotton, director of the city's Office of Violence Prevention, told the LA Times.
"It's their right to be out on the streets and it's commendable. There are black residents who in the early days of the unrest felt vulnerable … and still do."
The council moved to defund the police department following the death of Floyd on May 25, who died in the city after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
The shocking death was captured in a video shared widely online sparking outrage across the U.S. and fueling the Black Lives Matter movement.
The shocking incident also led to calls to defund police departments, and redirect funds to more community-focused programs.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, while the three other officers who were present at Floyd's arrest and death have been charged with aiding and abetting.
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