Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara unveils new plan for hiring more police officers

MINNEAPOLIS — The mayor of Minneapolis and the city’s top cop are ready to recruit, and they have a new plan to put more police back on the beat as Minnesota’s largest city is down hundreds of officers.

Police Chief Brian O’Hara said his department’s dangerously low numbers are not sustainable.

“The reality on the ground is our cops are going from call to call to call all day long,” O’Hara said.

They have 573 officers, but only 545 are available for shifts. The state supreme court ruled they’re required to have at least 731. The chief said those numbers are going in the wrong direction.

“This department continues to bleed people, and we need to stop that and stop that urgently,” O’Hara said.

City leaders think stopping that starts with more money. In a press conference Friday afternoon, Mayor Jacob Frey said officers need to be compensated for the work they do.

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In a new agreement between the union and the city, officers will get paid $18,000 over two and half years to stay on the force. New hires will get $15,000 over three years. It would cost the city more than $15 million.

“I think the recruitment incentive and retention bonuses are minimal for what we need but it is something,” O’Hara said.

The chief hopes it’s a step towards making the city safer.

Community activist K.G Wilson hopes it’s a step towards keeping innocent kids from getting killed. A stray bullet hit his granddaughter Aniya Allen back in 2021.

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Wilson doesn’t believe adding more officers to the force will bring justice to his family.

“To solve a homicide or shooting, somebody in the community has to say something,” Wilson said.

He is hopeful recruiting and retaining officers will lead to change.

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“Even though my granddaughter wasn’t saved, police couldn’t save her, the community couldn’t save her,” Wilson said. “Hopefully the police that come out now or the people that’s in the community working will be able to save somebody else’s child.” 

In a statement released Friday, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said its happy about the incentives, but officers need higher salaries.

The Minneapolis City Council still needs to approve the plan, which could happen in the next couple of weeks.

Anyone with information on Allen’s case can submit an anonymous tip online to Crime Stoppers, or call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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