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Frey threatens to veto budget if Minneapolis officers are cut

The mayor and city council continue to disagree over budget items, mainly over the future of the city's police force.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
The late afternoon sun shines in this aerial view over the Minneapolis skyline.

MINNEAPOLIS — On Wednesday evening the Minneapolis City Council is scheduled to host a listening session before a final vote on the 2021 city budget. 

Mayor Jacob Frey and members of the city council have been at odds over the city's planned spending for the next year, and the mayor is threatening to veto the entire budget if a proposed cut to the number of Minneapolis police officers is approved. 

Frey has been in support of maintaining the Minneapolis Police Department's presence in the city. Council members said they would prefer to invest in community-led safety initiatives instead of the police department.

"Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, to end policing as we know it, and to re-create systems of public safety that actually keep us safe," Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said at a meeting in Powderhorn Park on Sunday.

The council members who took part in the announcement included Cam Gordon, Steve Fletcher, Phillipe Cunningham, Jeremiah Ellison, Andrea Jenkins, Alondra Cano, Lisa Bender and Jeremy Schroeder. 

The starting time of the meeting has been moved to 4 from 6 p.m., to accommodate the number of people expected to speak during the comment time. Hundreds gathered to speak at a previous meeting, stretching it well into the next morning. At this week's meeting, each speaker will be limited to one minute, and the public hearing will go no later than 9:30 p.m.

If you are unable to attend the meeting in person, comments can be submitted online. They will be entered into the public record, and shared with the mayor and council members. 

On Monday, the Minneapolis budget committee voted to move more that $5 million  from the police budget to a new "Safety for All" plan, an initiative that focuses more on mental health professionals and non-police employees to handle some emergency calls in the place of traditional police officers.  

The proposed plan will need to be approved by the council at Wednesday's meeting. 

In addition, the budget committee narrowly approved an additional budget amendment on a 7-6 vote, which would reduce the size of the MPD force to 750 employees starting in 2022. Mayor Frey's original budget proposal called for 888 employees on MPD's staff.

Frey said he may veto the budget if the officer reduction remains in the final version.

“We continue to stand ready to collaborate and support the safety beyond policing initiatives, but I am actively considering a veto due to the massive, permanent cut to officer capacity," Frey said in a statement.

Read more about Mayor Frey's proposed city budget here