Police department forecasts 120 fewer officers by 2008

The Minneapolis Police Department released a draft five-year business plan June 21 that would reduce sworn officers by more than 120 by 2008, leaving an estimated 641 sworn officers citywide. That's a 30 percent cut from 2000, when the city employed 917 sworn officers. The department currently has 750 sworn officers.

At the same time the force is shrinking, the department projects that police-service calls will rise, from 346,000 this year to 352,000 in 2008, a 2 percent increase.

The plan, prepared by Deputy Police Chief Tom Dolan and approved by new Police Chief William McManus, addresses budget shortfalls and may be the best indicator of where priorities lie for the new department leadership.

The 2004 police department budget is $99.5 million. The business plan says police will receive $12.5 million less by 2008 than needed to maintain today's service levels. In other words, the department will have to do less.

The five-year plan states that 85 percent of the cuts will come from personnel. Eighty percent of the department's current budget goes for personnel.

The department projects that its middle ranks will be hit hardest; for example, the number of sergeants would be nearly halved, from 192 currently to about 100 in 2008. Investigative-unit staffing would drop from 146 officers currently to 105. There were 199 in 2000.

Cuts are not specified precinct-by-precinct.

In Southwest, neighborhood leaders have been concerned about cuts to the SAFE crime-prevention program. Last year, the number of SAFE teams (an officer and civilian) was cut in half, and earlier this month, Southwest's three SAFE officers were transferred to higher-crime precincts for the summer.

The police business plan makes vague mentions of SAFE cuts, and re-states McManus's pledge to make community crime-prevention practices department-wide. However, the document projects keeping the current number of SAFE teams through 2008.

The business plan includes the department's commitment to enhancing the traffic safety program, including an initiative to put officers on motorcycles.

There's also a pledge to increase and improve department technology, such as e-reporting and other measures intended to reduce the call load.

The plan emphasizes strategic patrol standards, with an emphasis on exploring work in special service districts such as the Warehouse District. The department is also working on better quality assurance and performance measures and federal mediation practices stemming from recent disputes involving members of the minority community.

City leaders acknowledge police cuts will be needed, but note they have cut larger percentages from other city programs.