There is a lot of judicial news today. This one is hot off the press: a judge of the Hennepin County District Court has granted a motion for a writ of mandamus against the City of Minneapolis, ordering the city to “immediately take any and all necessary action” to increase the size of the Minneapolis Police Department. The case was brought by residents of crime-ridden North Minneapolis, represented by the Upper Midwest Law Center, on whose board I serve.
The petition for a writ of mandamus was predicated on a provision of the Minneapolis City Charter that requires the city to maintain a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident. The petitioners argued that the City’s force has fallen below that requirement and is projected to continue falling farther behind over the next year.
There were various technical issues in the case, e.g., do you count all employees of the Police Department, or only sworn officers? Do you count officers who are on long-term leave? And what year’s population census or estimate applies to the calculation? The court resolved these issues largely in the plaintiffs’ favor, and found that the Minneapolis Police Department is short approximately 80 sworn officers. The Court ordered the City to take immediate action to increase the size of the force, and set a date no later than June 2022, by which the City must be in full compliance based on the most recent census data.
James Dickey of the Upper Midwest Law Center deposed Mayor Jacob Frey, among others, in the course of discovery. The court relied in part on Frey’s testimony in finding that the plaintiffs had suffered injury in the form of increased exposure to crime as a result of the decline of the Minneapolis Police Department, and therefore have standing:
59. Mayor Frey also states that the number of “sworn, available officers” is 200 less than two years ago “[a]t the same time we’ve seen crime numbers rise.” Mayor Frey confirmed this information in his deposition. Later in his deposition, Mayor Frey does not deny that precincts 3 and 4, in which the Petitioners live, are experiencing a large impact from the lack of police protection in the City. Specifically, Mayor Frey stated, “I am aware that those precincts have experienced very significant upticks in violent crime.”
60. To summarize, Mayor Frey acknowledges that “the uptick in violence we are seeing” is because police officers are needed. The Court finds that the reverse would be true, too. When the police force is adequately funded and staffed, violence decreases.
This decision is a significant win for the citizens of Minneapolis. Further, it is hard to imagine a more pointed rebuke to the “defund the police” movement that now seems to be in full retreat.
Judge Jamie Anderson’s opinion is embedded below.