Our clean energy future

Today marks a new era in how Minneapolis can work on achieving its clean energy goals. With the passage of new franchise agreements with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, and the creation of a City-utility Clean Energy Partnership, Minneapolis is forging a new path to work jointly with the utilities to address one of the greatest challenges we face – climate change.

This would not be possible without the tireless advocacy of members of our community that have kept the issue of our energy future on the forefront. Because of your efforts, we now have a groundbreaking platform to work on ensuring that as our city grows, our impact on the environment doesn’t.

So, what’s next for the Clean Energy Partnership? City and utility staff are already working out important details, such as a two-year work plan and the formation of the Energy Vision Advisory Committee. Our goal is to hit the ground running in early 2015 for the first meeting of the Clean Energy Partnership. As we begin our work, the continued involvement of our community matters and will bring accountability to make sure we reach our goals. Please stay tuned.

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An open letter from Mayor Betsy Hodges to the communities of Minneapolis

Thank you for the open letter of September 26 that you sent me. I welcome the series of respectful, thoughtful requests about how to move forward together and I very much appreciate the constructive ideas that you have put forward. I was encouraged to note that text accompanying a request for signatures on the letter referred to the letter’s “pragmatic approach” to “improved police–community relations,” calling it “something that we can all get behind, so we can get onto the same page and work together for a better Minneapolis.”

I thank you for your commitment to that goal. I share it wholeheartedly.

Allow me to begin with my vision for Minneapolis.

My vision for Minneapolis is of a city where every harmful gap in outcomes that are worse for people of color than for white people is eliminated. Every one of them.

My vision for Minneapolis is of a city whose growth includes everyone and every community, not just some communities.

My vision for Minneapolis is of a city that runs well for everyone and every neighborhood, not just some neighborhoods.

The three pillars of this vision — eliminating gaps based in race and place, growing inclusively, and running the city well for everyone — guide me every day.

Running the city well for everyone means making sure that every resident of Minneapolis feels safe and is safe, in every neighborhood. Hundreds of police officers serve respectfully and collaboratively every day to keep people safe and make neighborhoods across our city stronger. But not all do: some officers abuse the trust that is afforded to them, and take advantage of their roles to do harm rather than prevent it. Minneapolis has, and has had, officers like that. These officers do not represent a majority of the department, but their behavior disrupts community trust for all officers in the community. When left unchecked, their behavior fosters a culture inside the department that gives a shove downward to police and community relationships. When that culture exists, good cops face even more hurdles to fostering a positive culture and bad cops have even more room to maneuver, and the downward spiral continues. This is why it is so important to check bad behavior and end it, once and for all.

Every leader must acknowledge that this history and this culture in Minneapolis have made the goal of true community safety a challenge to reach. We must also acknowledge the pain and anger in community about it. If part of our community does not feel safe calling the police, if people do not report a crime or come forward as witnesses because they do not feel safe in relationship with the police, then nowhere in our city, and none of us, is safe.

This is why over many years, including eight years on the City Council, I have worked to improve police accountability and police–community relations. I have fought to strengthen civilian review of police misconduct and to create accountability measures for police chiefs that include racial equity, the incidence of misconduct, and effective discipline. While on the City Council, I voted against the reappointment of former Chief Dolan, based on issues of community relationships and management. I called publicly for early intervention systems for cops, and for the legal and contractual authority to impose stronger sanctions on officers who engage in misconduct. And as mayor, I have proposed to invest several million dollars next year and beyond to improve accountability and trust. My budget puts our money where my and our city’s values are.

Below is the vision and platform for police accountability that has guided my work over time, and guides me as mayor. It reflects my values, my history, and my determination to eliminate racial disparities, to transform the parts of police culture that perpetuate disparities, and to continue to build a department that looks like our city and is responsive to and respectful of all our cultures and communities.

My vision and goals are to:

  • Partner with Minneapolis schools, community-based organizations and others to actively recruit a diverse and engaged pool of applicants for Police Department positions.
  • Make sure that the criteria that we use to hire new officers and form Community Service Officer, Cadet, and Police Recruit classes reflect our community’s deeply-held values around public safety and respect, among others.
  • Not tolerate racist speech and actions on the force.
  • Support the Chief’s work to enforce that expectation and build community trust.
  • Improve the Police Department’s early-warning systems to identify and help officers address problems before they turn into officer misconduct.
  • Strengthen the City’s ability to track and punish poor conduct and proven patterns of misconduct, including by negotiating changes to the contract with the Police Federation that will make it easier to enact appropriate discipline swiftly.
  • Improve citizens’ and police officers’ ability to file complaints about misconduct without reprisal.
  • Charge and empower City staff to work with the police and the community to increase positive relationships and root out systemic problems.

This has been for many years the core of my views and actions about police accountability. Last year, I was the one who put these issues at the center of the campaign for mayor, and I had the privilege of engaging with people in communities across our city about them for a full year. And since January, when I have had the privilege of serving as mayor, I have been able to work every day on closing gaps and increasing equity, including by making significant investments in the City’s budget to accomplish that goal. Honest and healthy police–community relations, a police force that looks like our community, and conduct that rises every day rises to our collective standards, is at the heart of making Minneapolis a truly equitable city.

As I said earlier, your letter offered constructive ideas that I am pleased to respond to and build upon below.

Culture change in the department

The letter asked that “drastic steps be taken to address the culture within MPD that leads to negative police/community relations.” As I have said, I agree that culture change is essential. It will help end the disparities and behaviors that hold community, and all of us, back. It will encourage and bolster the many positive actions and attitudes that a majority of police officers already bring to the work. Culture change will turn a downward spiral into a virtuous cycle. Even though by definition, culture change is long-term work, we must act on the urgency that we feel now to bring it about.

Chief Harteau herself — as a woman and a person of color who has made a career in the Minneapolis Police Department, who once won a discrimination complaint against the department and won changes in policy and training as a result, and who has risen against long odds to set many firsts in leading the department — knows from deep personal experience about the urgent need for culture change. I support the chief who shares our commitment to and vision for it.

Below are some of the steps that are already in progress to create culture change, in the areas of community accountability, training and people. While there is more to be done, and I welcome your feedback on that score, these measure mark a strong commitment to change.

Accountability to community

Body cameras for officers. I am proud to support body cameras for all officers: they are an essential tool for holding officers accountable for their behavior, making corrections when necessary, and building community trust. When there are questions about an interaction, a body camera can exonerate or indict either party, and evidence from other cities bears that out. For this reason, I have proposed spending more than $1 million over the next two years to purchase and implement them, keeping a campaign promise that I made.

Below, I will provide more details about the status of body cameras, and will respond to the letter’s request for community input on them.

Firing officers who do not meet our standards for their behavior. Since becoming chief less than two years ago, Chief Harteau has fired six officers for misconduct, These are officers who have not met our city’s standards for behavior. This is a remarkable number for such a short period, especially considering that firing officers for misconduct is very challenging legally and contractually. But it is good for community and it is good for the hundreds of officers who do their jobs well every day. I support the Chief’s firing officers when their behavior warrants it.

Training

Chief Harteau has required training in Fair and Impartial Policing for every member of the Minneapolis Police Department. This training teaches officers how inherent biases can affect decision-making and strengthens their skills to do their jobs in an unbiased and impartial manner. She has also required training for commanders and supervisors on how to help officers develop practices of accountability.

People

Commitment to a department that looks like our community. Currently, the Minneapolis Police Department is slightly over 20% sworn officers of color, including Chief Janeé Harteau and several of her top command staff. That percentage is higher than it has ever been — and it is not nearly good enough in a city that is 40% people of color. I am committed to increasing dramatically the percentage of officers of color. To that end, I have committed about $1 million more per year on an ongoing basis to hire more community service officers (CSOs). In recent years, classes of CSOs have been 50% people of color or more, and they have proven one of the best pipelines for people of color to become sworn officers.

Community policing. I have also committed $1 million more in next year’s budget to support community policing, which is centered around building personal relationships of trust that foster respectful behavior and interactions. To support this goal, Chief Harteau has restructured police patrols across the city to get officers out of cars and on foot in community.

Officers’ treating residents as they expect family to be treated. In Chief Harteau’s first two months as chief, she instituted her MPD 2.0 initiative, which is a stem-to-stern revamping of standards of conduct, training and accountability in the department. In meetings that every sworn and civilian employee of the department was required to attend, Chief Harteau personally laid out her expectation that Minneapolis police officers operate by one guiding principle in every encounter with the public, no matter how seemingly small: “Did my actions reflect how I would expect a family member to be treated?”

These are among the steps to create culture change that are already underway. There is more to do, and your input and ideas are essential: I encourage you to share with me your ideas for how we can support, amplify and improve on this work.

Audit

The letter also asks for “an audit of MPD by a credible, third-party entity to review departmental structure, the effectiveness of internal affairs and the civilian review process, along with departmental policies.”

This is a request that we have taken to heart. In the fall of 2013, in response to the community, Chief Harteau asked the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) of the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an independent review of the Minneapolis Police Department’s oversight and discipline process. The goal of the review was to improve standards of police accountability, better manage police oversight and discipline, and prevent misconduct. The independent review process began in January of this year, during which OJP conducted in-depth interviews with 23 community stakeholders — half the total of those interviewed — along with elected officials and leaders in law enforcement, and reviewed department policy and history.

Following a 9-month-long review process, the Department of Justice previewed their draft findings to City leaders and community stakeholders earlier today.

OJP noted several strengths in our police department:

  • Chief Harteau’s realigning and reorganizing the department is moving in the right direction, and is shifting department culture toward accountability and transparency.
  • Increased collaboration between residents and police is improving the police conduct review process, and bringing more accountability and transparency to it.
  • The department’s new community-outreach strategies are starting to prove effective.
  • There is alignment around these goals between elected leaders and department leadership that is unique among cities of our size.

OJP stressed that it takes time in any police department for changes like these to take root in the department and be felt in community.

At the same time, OJP found that the most commonly reported types of officer misconduct are lack of respect, unprofessional language or tone, and lack of cultural competence and sensitivity.

The draft recommendations are that MPD should:

  • Develop a new, prevention-oriented Early Intervention System, in partnership with community, for officers who show signs of going down the wrong path, and provide a broad range of interventions.
  • Strengthen coaching for officers about their behavior and integrate it with the new Early Intervention System.
  • Heighten transparency in the complaint process, and make more data about it available to community.
  • Improve community relations by integrating model practices into community policing and expanding community engagement.
  • Improve communications about the police conduct and oversight process.

The next step is that the Department of Justice will take the feedback that they heard from community stakeholders earlier today and will return with final recommendations in 4-6 weeks. Once we have received those final recommendations, we will begin the process of working with stakeholders to implement them.

Quarterly progress reports

The letter also requested “quarterly progress reports to the community on issues such as increasing diversity within MPD, the rates of low-level arrests, the number and types of police misconduct complaints, and the number of police misconduct lawsuits being settled along with dollar amounts.”

This is a good idea, and I am pleased to commit to regular reporting on these or related issues. We are doing our homework to determine what information is currently available. I commit to giving you an answer in a month about how we will move forward, and welcome concrete suggestions about content and format.

Input on body cams

The letter also asked for “community input about policies, implementation and practices about officer body cameras by MPD.” This is another good idea that I would like to implement. Allow me first to provide an update on the current status of officer body cams.

Last month, the City Council and I approved contracts with two vendors to purchase police body cameras for the testing and evaluation phase of the body camera project. The pilot is expected to begin in November and last at least six months. It will allow us to select one vendor as well as gather information needed to ensure effective implementation of the full program, starting in 2015.

The department is in the process of acquiring the cameras and installing the supporting hardware and software. The 36 officers from the First, Fourth and Fifth Precincts who have volunteered to participate in the test phase will receive training for these new devices and software before the pilot begins. The standard operating procedure is also being developed and will be made public. Chief Harteau will present on status and plans for body cams to the Police Conduct Oversight Commission (PCOC) on October 14, just before one of our upcoming community forums.

Going forward, we will work with community to establish an input and engagement process that would begin once we have collected and are ready to review the data from the pilot program. Those data are what will be used to create policies and procedures for the full roll-out of the program, and community input at the stage will be the most effective and have the most impact.

In the meantime, I welcome your comments and feedback. My email address is betsy@minneapolis.org and my phone number is (612) 673-2100.

Apology

Finally, the letter asked for an apology from Chief Harteau or me for her not attending the last forum, and for language she used to describe her decision. On September 26, Chief Harteau offered an apology, saying, “When I described my decision not to attend last week’s listening session, I have learned some people were offended by my comments, and I apologize for them. As a Chief of Police who has worked for decades to help make our city stronger, it was never my intent to imply anything less than my full respect for all of our City’s diverse communities, and the great value that they create every single day in Minneapolis.” I welcome these words to the community, and know that the Chief intended no offense.

Steps in progress

To summarize, these are the steps in progress:

  • Body cameras
    • Pilot program to begin this fall
    • Standard operating procedure being drafted, to be made public
    • Chief Harteau presenting to PCOC on October 14
    • City Council to vote in December on Mayor’s proposal for $1 million in funding
    • Community input on data from pilot program
  • Department of Justice audit
    • Receiving stakeholder feedback on draft recommendations for implementing early-intervention system, better officer coaching, greater transparency, enhanced community engagement and improved communication
    • Final recommendations delivered in 4–6 weeks
  • Community policing
    • Underway; City Council to vote in December on Mayor’s proposal to fund more officers for community policing
  • Fair and Impartial training for officers
    • Underway
  • Quarterly progress reports
    • Draft outline of content and format within one month
  • Hiring officers that look like community
    • Ongoing
  • Chief empowered to fire officers who do not meet standards for behavior
    • Ongoing

Now the work continues. I know that the recent conflict is partly about the police chief’s not attending a forum or the language she used to talk about it — and I know it runs deeper than that. It is about the hurt around other incidents involving police and community in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It is about a history in this department of sometimes harmful police-community relations that I have worked to improve for years, and that now, as mayor, I am determined to shed as we move forward into something new and better. It is about the people — mothers and fathers, neighbors, and children — that we all know who have suffered from this history. It is about communities made less safe as a result. It is about Rodney King, about Trayvon, about Ferguson, about deep outrage and sorrow that we have all felt. It is about the deep inequities in our city, and about who we choose to be as a community in response to it. It is about all of us.

I have outlined above many of the tools that I have as mayor to make the change we all wish to see regarding the police department. These tools include the platform that has guided me for years. They include the investments I have made in my budget and the progress that we have made on several fronts this year. They include the will, skill, and talent of hundreds of police officers who do want to do right by the community. They most especially include community: the progress-focused ideas you have communicated, the grassroots energy and ideas you have shared with me for many years, the resiliency and determination to build better relations and a better city. We have much of what we need to move forward together.

In short, we share a common goal, and we share the will to get it done.

In addition to sharing the goal and the will, I also ask that we share good will. If you see me, or the chief of police, or anyone else in a position of responsibility, taking steps with which you disagree — steps that you think will not work as intended, or may unintentionally set us back — I invite you to assume first that I have misunderstood or made a mistake along the road to the goal that we all share. Out of that assumption, I invite you to approach me first in that spirit of good will, connection, and conversation. I offer the reaching out of my hand, an open ear, and an open inbox as a way to the outcomes that we all want to see. As mayor, and as a human being, it is my intent to assume good will and common purpose in you. I invite you to assume the same in me.

Thank you for your thoughtful letter and your deep commitment, which I share, to the city that we all want. Together we can, and will, create a stronger Minneapolis.

Betsy Hodges

10-8-14 Open Letter from Mayor Betsy Hodges to the communities of Minneapolis

Proposed budget investment: growth

Last month I shared with you my proposed budget investments in public safety. These investments help us move the dial on running the city well, while also advancing equity. Those are two of the three goals I focus on each and every day. The third goal I focus on is how to grow our city.

My budget delivers on all three of these goals, with intentional and deliberate investments. Budgets are where we get to have the most impact on our goals and priorities, where we get to deliver on what we voted for. This week I’d like to share with you a bit about my proposed budget investments in growth.

Housing

As we grow as a city, we must ensure there is an adequate supply of affordable housing for families, particularly larger families. My budget invests 1 million more city dollars into affordable housing, with the intention of using it to leverage state dollars and spur investment into family housing.

The foreclosure crisis hit our city hard and we are still seeing the impacts today. Minneapolis already has down payment- and closing-cost-assistance tools in place to help promote home ownership in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. To that tool box, I am adding an initiative that will specifically connect qualified residents from communities of color with those tools in order to move them into home ownership, and to rebuild community wealth in north and south central Minneapolis.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs

As we promote growth, we need to make sure that everyone can participate in our city’s growth. For years, the City has invested in low-interest loans and other tools for small businesses. I propose investing additional resources in our Business Technical Assistance Program, a groundbreaking strategy where the City contracts with local non-profit organizations focused on entrepreneur training and economic development to provide direct services to new and existing businesses. It expands its scope of work to support initiatives that link women and minority owned businesses with buyers. This effort will also contribute to the city’s goals of increasing diversity in our own procurement practices. At the same time, I propose adding an additional position to the Contract Compliance Unit in the Civil Rights Department.

Nicollet Mile

Perhaps one of the most exciting upcoming projects is the redesign of Nicollet Mall into Nicollet Mile. This project will provide an economic boom for the entire state of Minnesota. The State Legislature and Governor have invested in this project, as has the downtown business community. We as a city are doing our part, and my budget includes the promised $3.5 million to fully fund an investment that will bring additional dollars, jobs, and economic vitality to our city.

Infrastructure

A key element of any successful 21st-century city is a 21st-century transportation system. Not only does it make us more attractive to the increasingly large population of people who want to live without cars, it also helps guide and plan our development and growth. Minneapolis has made great strides in recent years to catch up with our peer cities, and we must keep moving forward. My budget includes a reorganized and reimagined transportation planning division, to ensure we are out ahead of future transportation projects rather than running to stay caught up.

A major part of our transportation planning is the expansion of our infrastructure for bicycling. Minneapolis needs to continue to be a leader when it comes to a bike system that encourages recreation and exercise, but also commuting. I am including $750,000 toward the network of protected bike lanes called for in our Climate Action Plan. This includes investment in some of the most diverse and low-income neighborhoods in Minneapolis. It also provides for snow management of these lanes in winter so they can be used year-round.

My budget also provides investment in a project the City has talked about for many years – the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal. Now that the lock and dam will be closed for good, we have an opportunity to invest in North Minneapolis. This budget provides planning dollars so we can map out a future where North Minneapolis finally has its own valuable riverfront amenities.

Safe development

Right now, Minneapolis is in a building boom. You can see it from the cranes that dot our skyline, you can see it from the ongoing developments happening all across the city. With more development and more buildings, we need to ensure our services can match the rising demand to keep the people inside those buildings safe. My budget includes funding for additional fire inspectors in our Fire Inspection Services program, as well as additional resources for construction code services, to keep the buildings – and the people inside those buildings – safe.

Something in it for all of us

The growth of our city is crucial to our successful future – and it cannot be said enough that inclusive growth will lead the way to maximizing prosperity for everyone.

Growth depends on us creating the city people choose to invest in. The foundation of that is a city run well, that provides opportunities to succeed to all residents. As people across the country continue to move into our urban cores, I – we – welcome them with open arms and the promise of a future together.

When we are intentional and deliberate, investments in the growth of Minneapolis can help accelerate our pace of growth, they can help increase our quality of life while inviting more people to share in it. In coming weeks, you’ll learn more about other proposed investments in health and sustainability, and running the city well. You can also learn more about the budget process, including dates for council hearings by clicking here.

A Clean Energy Partnership

I am pleased that the City of Minneapolis, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy have reached tentative agreements that would establish a first-of-its-kind City-utility Clean Energy Partnership. This partnership is the result of residents voicing their ideas and concerns to me and members of the City Council about how we can achieve Minneapolis’ energy goals, including increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gases, and building a more equitable energy system. The partnership – along with agreements with both utilities that build in a strong framework for accountability and results – will help Minneapolis make progress toward its goals for sustainable energy, improved air quality, equity, and green jobs. These agreements and the Clean Energy Partnership could be a new model for municipal climate action for other communities across the country. Addressing climate change through making changes to our energy system is a part of running the city well.

You can read more about the tentative agreements here. A public hearing to discuss the tentative agreements is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 6, in Room 317 of City Hall, 350 S. Fifth St. The hearing will take place during the City Council’s regularly scheduled Health, Environment & Community Engagement committee meeting.

Moving Minneapolis forward together

Police Chief Janeé Harteau and I today announced three forums with the community about public safety, police accountability and public trust: one in south Minneapolis, one in North Minneapolis, and one in Cedar–Riverside, all in October. Improving safety, accountability and trust are at the heart of the investments I’ve made in my proposed 2015 budget for the City. Moreover, I’ve worked on police accountability for many years, and the issue was at the center of my campaign for mayor. So I’m looking forward to great discussions at the forums and to moving our city forward together.

Last week I supported, and I continue to support, Chief Harteau’s decision not to participate in the listening session. When our chief of police — our top public safety official with 27 years of experience, who has put herself on the line as a police officer for decades — tells me that she has information she believes is credible that there is a risk to the public if she attends an event, I believe her. That is the message she conveyed to me and to Council members; at no point did she cite risk to herself as the reason for her withdrawal.

I know that Chief Harteau and I share a commitment to strong relationships between the MPD and the community. Her work on MPD 2.0, community policing, and body cams, along with her regular presence in the community, have demonstrated that over time. So has a commitment to culture change and to a diverse department that looks like the communities that MPD serves, particularly our communities of color.

Given that shared commitment, I appreciate these words from Chief Harteau:

“Being transparent and doing business differently also means taking responsibility. When I described my decision not to attend last week’s listening session, I have learned some people were offended by my comments, and I apologize for them.  As a Chief of Police who has worked for decades to help make our city stronger, it was never my intent to imply anything less than my full respect for all of our City’s diverse communities, and the great value that they create every single day in Minneapolis.”

I know that all of us in Minneapolis share a commitment to public safety, accountability and public trust, and I assume good will among everyone who shares that commitment. A core principle that guides me in my work as mayor is assuming good will, because we will get farther in building the equitable, growing and well-run city that we all want when we assume good will in each other.

We can also recognize that our intent alone is often not enough: even when we have no intent to offend, we can commit to taking stock of the effects of our words and actions, and correcting them when necessary.

I am confident that together, we can and will engage in constructive conversations about our differences while knowing that our similarities are far greater, and are what bind us as communities and human beings.

I look forward to what we will build together at the forums.

Proposed budget investment: public safety

I’ve said before, there are three questions that guide my decisions as mayor – how will this make our city run well, how will this move the dial on equity, and how will this move the dial on growing the city. The budget I delivered last month delivers on these three questions, with intentional and deliberate investments.

Budgets not only indicate our priorities, they are where our money meets our values. Last fall we voted for a city focused on eliminating racial gaps and creating equity. These values are in my budget. When it comes to public safety, not only does this move the dial on running the city well, but it’s an area where we can make significant investments in equity. I’m happy to share a little more with you about my proposed budget investments in public safety.

Body cameras

I’ve long been a proponent of body cameras for Minneapolis police officers, and the implementation of this system has been one of my top priorities. I’m pleased that last week the City Council approved the purchase of body cameras to begin a pilot later this fall. The pilot will pave the way a department-wide rollout in 2015. My capital plan provides $1,140,000 to implement this program of body cameras for the police department.

Body cameras have been shown to decrease both use of force and complaints about excessive force. Their use will help strengthen the community’s trust in the Minneapolis Police Department, while increasing accountability and transparency. Trust, accountability and transparency are key to building equity.

A stronger, more diverse police force

As our city grows, so too, must our police force. My budget provides for 10 additional police officers, for an authorized strength of 860 sworn officers. I strongly support Chief Janeé Harteau’s strategy of getting officers out of squads and talking directly with our residents and business owners on our streets, corners and doorsteps. To do this essential work takes more time, and that requires more officers.

With impending retirements on the horizon, we must also ensure there are new officers ready to fill the ranks. My budget includes $960,000 for a police cadet class of 18 next year.

A larger police force also needs to better reflect all the people in our community. I also propose adding nearly $1 million a year for community service officers classes of 20. Community service officers (CSO) are our most effective ladder into the Police Department. Moreover, our community service officers are significantly people of color, and laddering them into becoming sworn officers over time will accelerate our efforts to make sure that our force looks like the neighborhoods that they serve.

Minneapolis Fire Department

Public safety is more than our police department. We have certainly seen this year the important work the Minneapolis Fire Department does. For 2015, I have included $800,000 for two recruit classes.

I also have included $50,000 for the department’s Fire and Emergency Service Explorer Program, which Chief John Fruetel has championed. The Explorer program goes directly into Minneapolis high schools to recruit promising young people, providing hands-on leadership development and career exploration. Hopefully, these young men and women will decide to choose firefighting as a career. Both efforts will help us keep pace with ongoing retirements and make sure that this department also reflects the communities that we serve.

The vital link when you need help

In 911, I am adding $346,000 for four operators to the department’s base. 911 operators and dispatchers are the vital link between people in distress and the response that they need. That response is good: 911 continues to average response times of between 6 and 7 seconds each week, often times, even quicker. Those response times meet national standards, but we strive to be even better, more consistently. Additional operators will allow this critically important department the flexibility to increase staffing, have more time for cross-training and anticipate retirements.

Animal Care and Control

The staff who make up Minneapolis Animal Care and Control are passionate public servants. The work they do is important, as they create safe and healthy communities for people and animals through shelter care and adoption, investigation of dangerous animal and animal cruelty cases, public education, and more. My budget includes funding for two additional animal care technicians, so they can continue to increase the number of placements they make for animals each year.

Youth violence reduction

We must also focus on our youth. The City has been working to better identify youth most at risk of being victims or perpetrators of violence – this budget invests additional resources to allow us to serve these youth, resulting in a reduction in violent activity, drug use, and criminal activity, and an increase in school attendance.

Something in it for all of us

To run our city well we must keep it safe – and we must keep it safe for every resident, in every neighborhood. These investments in public safety are most certainly also investments in equity. In coming weeks, you’ll learn more about other proposed investments in growth, health and sustainability, and running the city well. You can also learn more about the budget process, including dates for council hearings by clicking here.

Challenge accepted, Senator Franken