A Protester hold a sign reading “Defund the Police” during a demonstration against police brutality and racism in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)
The police department involved in the killing of George Floyd is about to lose millions of dollars.
The Minneapolis City Council passed a plan early Thursday to redirect nearly $8 million from the department’s budget to other city services, including money to fund a mental health crisis team. The move follows days of debate among city leaders pressured to reform local law enforcement practices while also addressing a wave of violent crime, according to the Washington Post.
The plan, if signed by Mayor Jacob Frey, will impact a sliver of the department’s proposed 2021 budget of $179 million. The law enforcement agency will also be able to maintain its targeted staffing level next year, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“The additional funding for new public safety solutions will also allow the City to continue upscaling important mental health, non-police response, and social service components in our emergency response system,” Mayor Frey said in a statement on Thursday.
But shifting almost $8 million away from the department is a far cry from what activists have demanded in the wake of Floyd’s May 25 death at the hands of police, triggering chants of “No justice, no peace, defund the police” at anti-racism demonstrations across the country.
In response to those demands, a majority of Minneapolis City Council members pledged in June that they’d dismantle the city’s police department. Frey later said that the announcement sowed confusion, especially since council members had different ideas on what, exactly, their pledge intended to do.
“I think the initial announcement created a certain level of confusion from residents at a time when the city really needed that stability,” Frey told the New York Times in September. “I also think that the declaration itself meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people — and that included a healthy share of activists that were anticipating abolition.”
Frey told NPR in June that he was against abolishing the police department. He went so far as to threaten a veto on the council’s entire budget plan if it involved capping police staff, according to the Associated Press. Council members initially planned to trim the police department to 750 officers in 2022, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but later backtracked.
While the department is currently budgeted for about 888 cops, its force has shrunk amid resignations and a wave of absences due to officers reporting post-traumatic stress disorder after a summer of protests, the Star Tribune reported. On average, 770 officers are expected to work through 2021.