July 27, 2015- POFM President Bob Kroll addresses staffing shortages in the MPD
Updated: 07/27/2015 10:38 AM
Created: 07/26/2015 8:45 PM KSTP.com
By: Jay Kolls
Despite having a special team to target gun violence and launching a new gang unit in June, the Minneapolis Police Federation says Minneapolis law enforcement could have more officers, but the current number falls short.
The city of Minneapolis wants its law enforcement to include 860 officers. However, the Minneapolis Police Federation says, right now, there are only 790.
Many Minneapolis residents agree they’d like to see more officers in the neighborhoods.
“I would like to be able to send my son to the corner store and not have to worry about him being shot,” resident Rico Howard said.
Howard runs a nonprofit that builds community gardens, and invites young men to work in those gardens, in north Minneapolis.
“If you want the community to be reflection of you, sometimes you have to be the change that you expect or you have to do the work and set the example,” Howard said.
Howard expressed concern about the shortage of officers and said he’d definitely like to see the number of officers increase.
“It’s just that they need to come from the community they’re policing. That’s one of the most important things I want to stress, because you need that community engagement and that community involvement.”
Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll said the shortage is somewhat of a mystery to him.
“We are budgeted for 860 and why we are not there is beyond me,” Kroll said. “They’re there. They’re waiting to be hired.”
Kroll said calls can be delayed as much as 45 minutes for low-priority cases. Calls for back up can also be delayed. All of this, Kroll said, puts both the officers and the public at risk.
“We need the officers now. It’s a shortage and you can see that the homicide rate is much higher this year than it was last year at this same time.”
Minneapolis City Council member Blong Yang said low numbers are concerning, but the city has to make sure the officers going through the hiring process are well-trained.
“The training process itself is really difficult, because it’s a long process,” Yang said. “It takes anywhere from six months to about nine months to get new folks into the academy and get them trained.”
While the Minneapolis Police Federation contends 790 officers are within the city of Minneapolis, the police department puts its current number of sworn in staff at 801.
The department said it’s dealing with a larger-than-normal number of recent retirements. The department added that 26 individuals are in the academy currently, with another 32 set to begin in October.
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said they will all be on patrol by the end of the year.