In the ruling, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said Mayor Jacob Frey has a “clear legal duty” under the Minneapolis City Charter to employ at least 731 sworn police officers or at least 0.0017 of the 2020 census population, whichever is higher.”
Frey must also show proof that the City actually employed 731 sworn officers or explain why [he] “could not satisfy that duty.”
The city must comply with this ruling by June 30, 2022.
According to police payroll data cited by CBS Minnesota, the Minneapolis Police Department had 890 sworn officers on staff this time two years ago and 910 officers this time three years ago.
Those numbers decreased significantly last year with the latter half of 2021 showing around closer to 650 officers, according to CBS.
As of June 4, there were 626 sworn officers including 39 who were on “continuous leave.” The city has not had at least 731 officers or more since March 2021, according to city records.
Loss of Personnel ‘Not Easily Corrected’
In a statement on Monday, interim Minneapolis City Attorney Peter Ginder said the loss of police personnel is unprecedented and “not easily corrected” but the city is working to hire more officers in the department.
He added that the police department “has lost almost 300 peace officers” in the last two years while crediting multiple departures to retirements as well as those who had left the force due to post-traumatic stress disorder following the protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in 2020.
Floyd’s death sparked widespread riots, protests, violence, and looting across Minnesota and saw a police precinct set on fire in Minneapolis.
“Mayor Jacob Frey, the Minneapolis Police Department, and City are working in good faith to recruit and hire more community-oriented peace officers as quickly as reasonably possible,” Ginder said. “From additional funding for recruit classes and officer wellness programming to hiring bonuses, the City is continuing to work to rebuild the police force to full strength.”
The court order was bought on by a group of eight Minneapolis residents who sought to force the city into hiring more police officers, as required by the charter, amid an uptick in violent crime and a dwindling police presence.
Plaintiffs told the Supreme Court earlier this month that the current staffing is roughly 120 officers less than they believed was required.
Attorneys for Minneapolis had argued that the charter requirement relates only to funding but that Frey could ultimately decide how the money be used within the department.
Upper Midwest Law Center Senior Trial Counsel James Dickey called Monday’s ruling a “huge victory for our clients and the residents of Minneapolis.”
“This decision requires Mayor Frey to show that he has complied with the Charter police minimum or show why he cannot,” Dickey said in a statement. “MPD is under the required amount by at least a hundred officers, and we look forward to seeing the evidence of what the Mayor and City Council have done to change that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.