Public safety the focus of 2017 Minneapolis City budget Budget includes Northside crime prevention strategies

The city plans to increase the number of officers sworn in this year. Photo courtesy of MPD.

The city plans to increase the number of officers sworn in this year. Photo courtesy of MPD.

The New Year is here, and that means another municipal budget cycle. Public safety is a primary focus of the 2017 City of Minneapolis budget with equity also getting a lot of attention.

Mayor Hodges proposed her budget in August, and a version of the plan was approved by the Minneapolis City Council in December. The city’s 2017 budget of $1.3 billion represents a 7.7 percent increase over last year’s. Overall property tax collections are set to rise by 5.5 percent—or $16.3 million.

The Minneapolis Police Department will receive a $5.2 million increase this year. Of that amount, $1.3 million will pay for 15 new officers. Twelve of the new officers will be focused on community policing and three will focus on helping individuals affected by mental health issues.

In addition to new officers, this year’s budget provides nearly $1 million for community-based public safety initiatives.

On the Northside, collaborative crime-prevention strategies will be implemented in one area with high levels of youth violence. Residents, business owners and organizations on West Broadway between Lyndale and Girard Avenues will receive technical and financial support to implement public-safety interventions that are right for the community.

Additional public safety spending will be dedicated to:

*Group Violence Intervention, a collaboration of the city’s health department, police force and residents supporting offenders choosing to stop violent activity

*A hospital-based intervention initiative designed to reduce gun violence

*A program pairing mental health co-responders with sworn officers

*A Community Service Officer class meant to help more people of color become sworn police officers

*The police department’s body camera program

Mayor Hodges provided rationale for this spending. “Through balancing innovative investments in community policing and community-based safety strategies, we have changed the center of gravity on how we think about public safety in Minneapolis,” she said. “In the 21st Century, safety and trust are inextricably intertwined.”

Equity—in addition to public safety—also ranked highly among Hodges’ priorities. A total of $14.5 million is directed toward affordable housing. An additional $100,000 will support efforts to address racial and religious discrimination. And all of the city’s employees will receive implicit-bias training.

“Budgets are always an exercise in balance, and this budget is no exception,” Mayor Hodges said. “I am proud of the balance that we have struck between providing basic services and responding to the changing needs of our city and the people we serve.”