Minneapolis Neighborhood Fundraises to Hire Extra Police Patrols

Amid a skyrocketing crime surge, wealthy Minneapolis neighborhood residents are raising money to hire off-duty police patrols to work extra hours.

This is supported by the Minneapolis Safety Initiative, a nonprofit created by the city council in January. It raises money for the services through crowdfunding—typically the online solicitation of small-dollar donations.

The community is paying $107 for every extra hour each officer works, and the initiative recommends that people contribute for a minimum of six months.

According to the nonprofit’s website, the move is a “temporary measure to address the current crime wave while MPD continues to rebuild to full staffing levels.”

The upscale Lowry Hill neighborhood raised $210,000 to fund extra police presence in the area from January 17 through December 31.

Residents are encouraged to donate $220 each month per household in order for the program to achieve its “desired impact.”

Since George Floyd’s passing, Minneapolis police saw a significant decrease in the police force as a result of retirements, resignations, and disability leaves. In the wake of the outrage over Floyd’s death, there have been campaigns to defund the police. In response to these calls, Minneapolis City Council committed to “end policing as we know it” in July 2020.

The council cut $1.1 million from the city’s policing budget with the intention of reallocating the funds to the city health department to support civilian violence interrupters who would mediate disputes.

In an apparent effort to support angry residents, the council announced their commitment during the protests. However, they later acknowledged that this “created confusion in the community.”

Councilor Andrew Johnson said that the promise to end policing was meant “in spirit.”

Last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that Minneapolis is not complying with its duty to employ a certain number of officers, namely 17 per 100,000 citizens.

Compared to the 580 officers currently on payroll, Minneapolis should be hiring at least 731 officers, according to the most recent census figures.

The Minneapolis Police Department crime data report reflects that total crime rates are up by 18.5 percent, including a rise in burglaries, thefts, and carjackings.

Some residents have expressed frustration over the idea that wealthier neighborhoods can afford to buy greater police protection.

“I don’t believe safety should be measured or administered based on the economic tax bracket that you’re in,” said AJ Awed, executive director of neighborhood group the Cedar Riverside Community Council. “I believe that this patrolling should be actually used in ways that actually affect the most deeply affected neighborhoods.”

Elliott Payne, a councilman for Ward 1, shared the worries, saying: “I’m of the opinion that everyone who’s a taxpayer should get equal service and I’m not comfortable with wealthier neighborhoods pooling resources to get superior service.”