Monday, May 4, 2015

Minneapolis Police Expenditures

The 2015 annual budget for the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is over $153 million, which is approximately 10.75 percent of the entire city budget. The MPD budget has increased by $20 million in the last five years, although the city budget has also grown as a whole. About $148 million of the budget is provided through the city’s general fund, equal to 32 percent of all general fund expenditures. Almost 76 percent of the budget is used towards salaries, wages, and fringe benefits. Overall MPD staffing has increased each of the past four years, from 967.80 FTE employees in 2012 to an approved 1,020.50 FTE employees in 2015. The number of sworn officers will increase in 2015, from the present 860 FTEs to 874 FTEs by year’s end.

Three cities were selected as peer comparisons based solely on population. One should understand that each city has its own unique conditions, such as crime rates, types of crime, services offered, and local political environment, which makes any comparison difficult.

  • Oakland. The 2015 budget allocation for the police department is about $194 million, which is almost 18 percent of the total city budget and 42 percent of the general fund. Oakland has made large budget cuts over the past decade in an attempt to address severe budgetary shortfalls, reducing the number of sworn police staff from 837 to 611 officers and cutting compensation for all city employees by 9 percent.
  • Miami. About $182 million has been allocated to the police department for the 2015 fiscal year. This is a 55 percent increase in expenditures from 2012 levels, and accounts for 33 percent of general fund spending. A total of 1,639 FTE positions are funded, including 1,259 sworn officers - an addition of 80 officers since 2014.
  • Tulsa. The Tulsa Police Department stands out from the other three cities in that its police department allocation is significantly less, with a 2015 budget allocation of only $95.5 million, but still about 34 percent of general fund expenditures and 15 percent of the total city budget. Interestingly, the City of Tulsa relies heavily on sales taxes rather than property taxes, with 65 percent of its revenue coming from sales and use taxes.

Funding for policing comes primarily from the City of Minneapolis, although MPD does receive revenue from the state government ($7.4 million) and the federal government ($2 million), often times in the form of matching grants. With public safety receiving such a large portion of general fund expenditures, it is not surprising that budget debates between the Mayor’s Office and the police union have been quite heated in recent years, perhaps reaching a new level of notoriety with the 2014 “Pointergate” scandal that drew national news attention.

The policing profession has been under the microscope this past year as a result of numerous incidents of police violence. With this national attention, calls for police reform have grown louder. Possible reform ideas include using independent investigators and prosecutors for police misconduct cases, requiring police officers to wear body cameras, and reconsidering penalties for drug offenses. In order to best meet the evaluative criteria of equity, efficiency, and adequacy, open dialogue and discussions are needed to determine not just how many officers are necessary, but how to ensure that officers are of the highest standard and are providing residents with the best value for their tax dollar.

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