The Minneapolis City Council Monday approved cuts to the Police Department budget that Mayor Jacob Frey says he may veto, reports Minnesota Public Radio. The cuts are part of a proposal that take $7.7 million to fund other public safety programs and initiatives. The money would pay for the expansion of the Office of Violence Prevention within the city’s Health Department. The plan moves more than a dozen civilian crime prevention specialist positions out of the Police Department into another city agency. The council approved reducing the authorized size of the force from 888 to 750.
Frey said the council was sidestepping a “mutually-agreed upon [police] staffing study” as well as a business and community initiative that promised $5 million for mental health services to work with emergency response. “I am actively considering a veto due to the massive, permanent cut to officer capacity,” the mayor said. Council members approved creation of a staffing fund for the Police Department which allows for the hiring of new recruits, but would require the chief to get authorization from the council first. The council-supported plan would create a 911 response for mental health calls that does not involve police, according to the three council members who authored the plan, City Council President Lisa Bender, and Council members Phillipe Cunningham and Steve Fletcher. Fletcher said the council “had a challenging, thoughtful conversation about policing, about alternative responses, and about what we want for the future of public safety. This Council is united on the goals of providing a better response to mental health crises and investing in violence prevention.”