Understaffed police departments in Minneapolis are struggling to fill vacancies following the police-involved murder of George Floyd in 2020.
The controversial death resulted in a loss of trust in law enforcement and subsequent anti-police protests spurred a mass exodus of officers. Two years later, this trust has yet to be rebuilt and Minneapolis has still not yet refilled hundreds of openings.
Police spokesman Garrett Parten recognized the recruitment challenges the city faces but said only 57 people stepped up and applied this year. This figure is down from 292 applicants in 2019.
Typically, a class can accommodate up to 40 recruits but only six graduated from the most recent class in September.
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“You can scream as loud as you want, ‘Hire more people!’ but if fewer people are applying, then it’s not going to change the outcome much,” Parten said. “Across the country, recruitment has become an issue. There’s just fewer people that are applying for the job.”
The nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum, which surveyed 184 police agencies in the U.S. and Canada, found that resignations jumped by 43% from 2019 through 2021 and retirements jumped 24%. Overall hiring in that same span fell by 4%.
In August, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced a proposal that would increase police funding and would allow for 800 officers to be hired in the city.
“Our city needs more police officers,” Frey said at the time.
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The announcement came after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of some city residents who sued the mayor for not hiring back the minimum number of police.
In June, Interim City Attorney Peter Ginder highlighted the recruitment issue in court. He called the police exodus “an unprecedented loss of personnel that is not easily corrected.”
“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,” he added over the summer.
The officers responsible for Floyd’s death, including Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, continue to face legal action for their involvement.
Chauvin was convicted of murder last year and another former officer pleaded guilty in May to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Two other former Minneapolis police officers still await trial on state charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.