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Minneapolis has struggled to rebuild its police department after hundreds of officers quit in the two years since George Floyd was killed by a city police officer.
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) —wiki-bio, Inside the sprawling Minneapolis Police Academy campus on the city’s north side, six people sat soberly and listened to a handful of officers and city officials talk about joining an understaffed department. which is synonymous with the murder of George Floyd.
George Floyd Age
George Floyd was 49 years old.
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Officers would live in a bustling, vibrant metropolitan area with a high quality of life, they said, working in a large apartment where they could choose from a wide variety of career paths with comprehensive benefits.
But those who take the oath must understand that it is dangerous work and that they are expected to protect the sanctity of human life, even if it means controlling a fellow officer. And everything they do must be aimed at rebuilding trust in a city that was shattered by the murder of Floyd and other black men.
“There are still people who still value us,” said Sgt. Vanessa Anderson told potential recruits. “The community still values us. I really think so.”
Crime has increased in Minneapolis during the pandemic, as in many American cities. Homicide crimes nearly doubled from 2019 to 2021, aggravated assaults increased by a third, and carjackings, which the city only started tracking in the fall of 2020, exploded. And the city’s crime problem has been compounded by a mass exodus of officers citing post-traumatic stress after Floyd was killed, eviscerating the department of about a third of its staff.
Some residents say the city can feel lawless at times. On July 4, police seemed unable to cope as rioters fired fireworks at other people, buildings, and cars. That night prompted more than 1,300 911 calls. One witness described fireworks being fired at one of the few responding police cars.
“Our city needs more police officers,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in August, introducing a proposal to increase police funding in an effort to increase the number of officers to more than 800 by 2025. Turning up the pressure: A court ruled in favor of residents who sued the city for not having the minimum number of officers required by the city charter.
One of the six who attended the late-summer presentation at the Minneapolis Police Academy was Cyrus Collins, 36, from suburban Lino Lakes, who identifies as mixed race.
Collins sports a facial tattoo of an obscenity against the police. He told The Associated Press that he is targeting the “bad guys” like those who killed Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death by officers serving a search warrant in Louisville, Kentucky. The department said it does not have a policy governing tattoos.
“I don’t want people of color to be against the police,” said Collins, who works as a pizza chef and a FedEx package distributor. “What other career would be better to send that message than being a Minneapolis police officer?”
Also at the meeting was William Howard, a 29-year-old black man who said he installs office furniture, writes stories for video games and has only lived in Minneapolis for a few months. Howard said that he has studied meditation and that he believes it would be a useful skill when de-escalation is required.
“I feel like I can bring more heart to the police force. Heart is not about power and control, it’s about courage and protecting people and serving people,” Howard said.
But he was undecided about the application. He has a 1-year-old son and is concerned about work-life balance and the dangers of the job.
Frey’s proposed funding would cover an officer recruitment marketing campaign, an internship program for high school students and four classes of police recruits each year, among other measures.
Police spokesman Garrett Parten said the city is aware of the recruiting challenges it faces. Each class can accommodate up to 40 recruits, but only six were in the graduating class in September. Only 57 people applied in 2022, down from 292 applicants in 2019.
“You can yell as loud as you want, ‘Hire more people!’ but if fewer people apply, then it’s not going to change the outcome much,” Parten said. “Across the country, recruitment has become a problem. There are just fewer people applying for the job.”
The statistics confirm it. Among 184 law enforcement agencies surveyed in the US and Canada, the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum found that resignations increased 43% between 2019 and 2021, and retirements increased 24% %. Given these departures, global hiring fell by 4%.
At an information session for aspiring cadets in March, training officer Matthew Hobbs thanked attendees for simply being there.
“In Minneapolis, with what we’ve been through in the last two years, that you’re here and have an interest in law enforcement … I’m impressed with every single one of you that’s here,” he said.
Hobbs spoke of how he felt the day after Floyd’s killing, when he and other officers were ordered to leave the compound that was quickly seized and burned by protesters.
“It was the worst day of my career. But even after that, I still love my job,” Hobbs said, urging attendees to apply. “It’s an amazing career.”
Howard, the qualified potential recruit, later said that he applied but failed the oral exam. And Collins, who had spoken of being a bridge between people of color and police, said a last-minute trip forced him to miss a required oral exam. He plans to apply again later, he said.
“I want to do something that I’m proud of and give my full compassion to,” Collins said. “I can’t find another career, right now, in 2022, with all of this, than being a police officer.”
Trisha Ahmed is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues. Follow Trisha Ahmed on Twitter.