The Potluck

Minneapolis Police Department down 300 officers from spring 2020

By: - October 11, 2021 4:10 pm

A Minneapolis Police Department squad car. Photo by Tony Webster.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s staff has dwindled to 588 officers, a decline of roughly 300 from the time of George Floyd’s murder, the Star Tribune reported.

Police departments across the country are having trouble retaining and recruiting staff, leaving many with officer shortages. The New York Times reported in June that retirements were up 45% and resignations 18% in the 12-month period ending in April. 

In Minneapolis, the struggles have been acute following the murder of Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer and days of demonstrations against the police that followed.  Minneapolis voters will decide in the upcoming election whether to replace the department with a new Department of Public Safety.

The shrinking force is the result of a wave of resignations, retirements and officers filing for workers compensation or disability benefits. MPD is operating at about two-thirds its maximum staffing level, which is 888 officers.

A sharp increase in police officers applying for workers compensation benefits since spring 2020 — many of them filing claims for post-traumatic stress disorder — is also straining the city’s budget. 

In a typical year, MPD’s worker compensation costs account for less than half the citywide total. In 2020, they made up the majority of the city’s workers’ comp costs — nearly $11.8 million, out of more than $14.2 million citywide, according to a presentation given to City Council members in early October.

The dwindling number of officers comes amid a surge in crime compared to pre-pandemic, in line with national crime trends. So far this year, the city has recorded 75 murders, compared to 82 in all of 2020 and 48 in 2019.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.