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Court: Minneapolis doesn’t have to meet police minimum

March 14, 2022 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has overturned a lower-court ruling that Minneapolis violated its city charter by failing to keep police staffing levels above a minimum.

The appellate court Monday said that the city charter clearly imposes a duty on the City Council to fund a minimum number of officers, but it doesn’t require the mayor to continously employ them, the Star Tribune reported.

The ruling reverses a court victory last year in a lawsuit brought by several north Minneapolis residents who said the city was failing in its obligation to provide sufficient policing.

Attorney Douglas Seaton, whose Upper Midwest Law Center represents the group that sued, said the citizens would appear to the state Supreme Court. He called it “absurd” to say that a minimum number of police officers must be funded but they don’t have to be employed.

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The citizens’ lawsuit came as crime spiked in Minneapolis citywide, especially during the pandemic and in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police, and as the number of officers simultaneously fell sharply.

The appellate court said Mayor Jacob Frey’s duty to maintain police staffing levels is “discretionary.”

The Star Tribune reports that Frey has held three police academies and recalled laid-off community service officers as he works to rebuild the department.