Minneapolis City Council questions police on spike in crime after movement to defund police

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A protester carries a U.S. flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building, in Minneapolis during protests over the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

MINNEAPOLIS (NEXSTAR) – A two-hour city council meeting on the future of police reform in Minneapolis turned into a hearing with the police chief about what can be done to stop a rise in violent crime.

In June, nine members of the council said they were looking to “dismantle” the existing police force and replace it with a different public safety model following the death of George Floyd in police custody. But just months after that effort, members of the same council are wondering why their constituents are complaining about a lack of policing in the city.

“Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police’?” newly-elected council member Jamal Osman, asked at the meeting this week, as first reported by MPR News.

According to MPR, property crimes, robberies, homicides and even arsons are up compared to a year ago.

The city has delayed plans to put a proposal to restructure the department on the November ballot, pending further review. But councilmembers suggest policing has since become politicized.

The Star Tribune reports that members of the council raised concerns at the meeting this week that laws were not being fully enforced in the wake of the defend police movement. A concern they say comes directly from what constituents have heard from officers on the street.

“I think it’s possible they are essentially campaigning … because they don’t support the council member or, in some cases, the mayor, or perhaps they think that they are making the case for more resources for the department,” Council President Lisa Bender said, according to the Star Tribune.

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told the council he was troubled by that suggestion and said he would raise the issue with precinct commanders and ensure that the department was fulfilling its oath to be responsive.

Other members raised concerns that the department is getting overworked and understaffed. Arradondo said the number of people who have left the department this year is more than double a typical year, heightening staffing concerns.

Emotions have remained raw since Floyd’s death on May 25th. Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his for nearly eight minutes. Floyd’s death sparked protests worldwide, including several nights of violence in Minneapolis.

Bystander video of Floyd’s arrest circulated around the world, sparking protests and leading to increased support for the Black Lives Matter movement. It has also stirred debate about the structure of police departments, systemic racism and the most effective methods for deescalating emergency calls.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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