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Quick facts to understanding the Minneapolis Police Department budget

Abimael Chavez-Hernandez
Sep 24, 2020

The killing of George Floyd in the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department sparked global protests and conversations all across the U.S. about the need for transformational changes in policing. Policy changes are needed at multiple levels of government, and must center the voices and experiences of Black and Brown communities to make Minnesota a place where all feel safe, regardless of race, region, or religion.  

At the local level, advocates who have long been working in Minneapolis have put forth a vision of transformational change, including Reclaim the BlockMPD 150, and Communities United Against Policy Brutality.   

This has a lot of folks interested in how they can get involved, including digging into how their local governments and budgets work.  

Residents of Minneapolis have been learning about the multiple levels of decision-makers who can influence the future of policing. This includes the Minneapolis City Council and mayor, but also a more obscure Charter Commission.  

Here are a few things about the Minneapolis budget and police budget in particular: 

  1. The Minneapolis City Charter – which is basically like the city’s constitution – requires the city to have at least .0017 police department employees per resident of the city. Today, that means at least 740 police department employees. The police department is the only department in the city with this type of requirement, and Minneapolis is unusual in having such a requirement.

  2. The Minneapolis Police Department comprises 37 percent of the city's general fund spending in 2020. 

  3. While Minneapolis has a relatively weak mayoral system compared to other cities, the mayor has executive control over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the police department. For example, the police chief answers to the mayor and can be hired, with the council’s approval of the mayor’s nomination, by the mayor. 

  4. Minneapolis's budget year is from January 1 to December 31 (i.e., a calendar year basis).

  5. The mayor presents a budget in August, including a recommended policing budget. The City Council holds hearings on budget proposals from September to November. The Council makes changes to recommendations in December and approves a final budget.

  6. The City Council can amend the city charter only if they pass the change unanimously and have the mayor’s approval. If the City Council passes a change unanimously but does not have the mayor’s approval, the proposed change will be submitted to the voters as a ballot question. 

  7. The Minneapolis Charter Commission is the appointed state agency in charge of managing the City’s charter. The Charter Commission facilitates any language changes to the charter, and also effectively has veto power in these processes. 

  8. Another option to amend the city charter is if a citizen-led petition acquires a certain number of voter signatures, which currently is over 10,000, then the proposed change can be submitted to the voters.