- The Washington Times - Friday, July 22, 2022

Amid skyrocketing crime rates, residents of one Minneapolis neighborhood are crowdfunding to pay for a city program that will give them more police patrols.

The Minneapolis Police Department has a “buyback” program that lets outside organizations have extra police patrols and presence in exchange for paying for police overtime hours.

Denizens of the Lowry Hill neighborhood created a nonprofit, the Minneapolis Safety Initiative, to secure a buyback contract. The group is paying “$210,000 in extra police patrols at $107 per hour worked by an officer, starting Jan. 17 and running through Dec. 31, 2022,” according to MinnPost.

The Minneapolis Safety Initiative tells residents that “To have the desired impact, we suggest a recurring contribution of $220/month for at least 6 months,” according to their website.

While Lowry Hill can afford to pay for extra police protection, with “40% of residents making more than $100,000 a year,” according to MinnPost, other neighborhoods cannot afford the costs.

Elliot Payne, the city council member for Minneapolis’ Ward 1, told MinnPost, “I’m not comfortable with wealthier neighborhoods pooling resources to get superior service.”

A police presentation on the “buyback” program indicated that neighborhoods made up 21.5% of the program hours worked by police officers in 2021.

Mr. Payne also chafed at the dissonance between the “buyback” program and the police staffing shortage; the department has 564 members, well short of the 731 officers mandated in the charter based on the city’s census data.

“It is really hard to hear the consistent drumbeat of the staff shortage, paired with apparently our officers having enough open capacity to do these additional patrols,” Mr. Payne said.

The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, temporarily slashed the police budget by $1.1 million after the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020. The police budget has bounced back since then over concerns about rising crime.

The police budget “was at $193 million at the time of the $1.1 million slashing, [and] has now exceeded 2020 levels. Minneapolis police are currently operating on a roughly $196 million budget,” according to the Daily Mail.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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