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.
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.