Council dives into public safety budgets

Public safety leaders briefed City Council members on proposed 2016 budgets for the police and fire departments on Thursday.

The proposed budget for the police department is approximately $157.7 million, which includes funding for the new police body camera program and an additional two officers focused on youth outreach downtown — bringing the authorized sworn officer total to 862 for 2016.

The department expects to hire about 50 full-time employees to offset the attrition of 30 employees in 2016, according to the MPD budget presentation.

The proposed 2016 budget includes an increase of $300,000 to train about 23 community service officers (CSO) — a pipeline of potential officer candidates designed to increase the diversity of the department.

The MPD’s total sworn force is expected to be 850 officers by year’s end. The department also has about 140 civilian employees.

Other proposed budget highlights include funding for a new early intervention system manager to track officer performance; a new sub-station in the Somali community; two additional forensic scientists to help with tracking guns, among other things; and two new crime analysts to help spot trends.

At the end of the presentation, Harteau said she’s “incredibly proud” of the MPD’s work and partnerships with the community.

She said she’s concerned about the uptick in violent crime, but said it could be much worse given that other cities are experiencing double-digit increases in crime.

The fire department’s proposed 2016 budget is about $72 million.

Fire Chief John Fruetel said the department has made progress in increasing response times throughout the city. The department responded to 40,665 emergency calls for service in 2014 and Fruetel said he expects calls to exceed 42,000 this year.

The proposed budget includes increased funding for a EMT pathways program for high school students and other outreach programs to encourage youth interested in emergency medical work and firefighting.

As for staffing levels, the department has a goal of hiring smaller classes of new firefighters more often to avoid large waves of retirements in the future, Fruetel said.

The department currently has 415 firefighters, he said. Overtime costs are also expected to drop about 50 percent this year compared to 2014.

Overall, Mayor Betsy Hodges’ proposed city budget for 2016 is $1.22 billion. Budget presentations continue through November and the Council is expected to vote on adopting the budget Dec. 9. For more information, go to www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/budget