Many officers are concerned about the continuing unrest, said Sgt. Sherral Schmidt, President of the Minneapolis Federation of Police Officers. Officers began to leave the department en masse after last summer’s uprising, she said, and morale only worsened. With limited staffing, agents found themselves jumping from call to call, with few opportunities to engage with the community, she said. Even members of the community engagement team have been reassigned to different jobs to help make up for the shortage of patrols, she said.
Officers are expected to work 12-hour shifts once the trial reaches oral argument, Sgt.Schmidt added.
“The most important thing for our cops right now is that they don’t feel any support,” she said. “So every day they come in and it’s like, ‘Oh, why are we going to be scrutinized for today?'”
Some longtime civil rights activists are very critical of the police, but also of how supporters of the defund movement have tried to bring about change. Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights lawyer, criticized the Defund movement as nothing more than “catchy slogans and slogans.” She said last summer she warned Jeremiah Ellison, a member of city council supporting the police department’s dismantling efforts, that it would only lead to chaos.
“You’re going to turn Minneapolis into a wild Wild West,” she recalls telling him.
But Mr Ellison said the rise in violence in the city began long before the money was redirected from the police, and he thanked council members for investing in alternatives to the police.
“To do what we did in 10 months,” he said, “as far as city government is concerned, it’s kind of going at the speed of light.”
Last June, nine council members, a veto-proof majority, stood on a stage in a park behind large capital letters that read “Defund Police” and pledged to dismantle the police department.