The Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC), which represented the plaintiffs in Spann v. Minneapolis City Council, issued an urgent call, demanding in a letter that the City Council correct its ongoing violation of the Minneapolis City Charter, section 7.3. This demand follows the Minnesota Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Spann v. Minneapolis City Council, where the Court ruled in a 7-0 vote that the Council has a “clear legal duty to fund at least 731 sworn police officers under section 7.3(c) of the Minneapolis City Charter.”
The letter states that the City’s failure to hire and retain sufficient police with its budget shows that the Council does not fund the Charter minimum of 731 officers. As of November 2023, the Minneapolis Police Department employed only about 580 sworn officers, a 32% decrease since August 2020, and 151 fewer than the City Charter requires. While the budget currently claims—on paper only—to fund 731 sworn officers, the reality is that the City is uncompetitive with neighboring suburbs and refuses to deal with that problem.
UMLC is also deeply concerned about misconceptions by some on the Council that they can disregard the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision in Spann. The City remains bound by that decision and the Charter, underscoring the Council’s legal obligation to meet funding requirements. If concrete measures for compliance are not communicated by December 22, 2023, UMLC will pursue legal remedies.
“The Minneapolis City Council is disregarding the Charter’s minimum funding requirement, hiding behind numbers on paper that don’t reflect reality. It is a direct threat to public safety,” said Senior Counsel James Dickey. “Even though the state gave the City $19 million to shore up the police force, they apparently plan to spend it elsewhere. A budget that claims to fund 731 officers but can hardly maintain 150 fewer than that is not adequate. Immediate corrective action is not just a demand; it’s an imperative to fulfill the Council’s duty and restore the Minneapolis Police Department and safety to the City.”