The Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a budget early Thursday that will shift $8 million from the police department toward violence prevention and other programs but retains Mayor Jacob Frey’s targeted staffing levels for sworn officers, averting a possible veto, reports the Associated Press. Frey, who had threatened to veto the budget if the council went ahead with a plan to cap police staffing, said the vote was a defining moment for the city, which has experienced soaring crime rates amid calls to defund the police since the death of George Floyd. The City Council had approved a proposal to cut the city’s authorized police force to 750 officers from the current 888 beginning in 2022. The council changed course Wednesday after the mayor called the move “irresponsible.” It voted 7-6 to keep the cap at 888.
“Tonight the City Council passed a budget that represents a compromise, and also a big step forward into a more compassionate and effective public safety future,” said council member Steve Fletcher, co-author of the proposal to lower the cap on staffing. Supporters call the City Council’s plan “Safety for All,” the latest version of the “defund the police” movement that Minneapolis and other cities have considered since Floyd’s death ignited mass demonstrations against police brutality. The plan cuts nearly $8 million from Frey’s $179 million police budget, redirecting it to mental health teams, violence prevention programs and other initiatives. Cities around the U.S. are shifting funds from police departments to social services programs in an effort to provide new solutions for problems traditionally handled by police. In Minneapolis, violent crime has surged since Floyd’s death of Floyd. Police have recorded 532 gunshot victims this year, more than double a year ago. Carjackings have spiked to 375, up 331 percent from last year. Violent crimes have topped 5,100, compared with about 4,000 in 2019.