Law

National Police Association-backed Litigation in Minneapolis Sees Courtroom Victory

It was good news for Cathy Spann and seven other Minneapolis residents after the court ruled in favor of litigation against the mayor and city council. In conjunction with the National Police Association (NPA), who acted as amicus curiae (“friend of the court”), the plaintiffs were able to prove that Minneapolis PD didn’t comply with minimum staffing requirements as mandated by the City Charter.

On Thursday, July 1, 2021, an order issued by the court instructed Mayor Jacob Frey and the city council to hire more boys in blue. The court ordered them to take immediate action and put more funds to help engage and run the police department in the city.

According to the court, the mayor and the city council’s decision to conduct political budget cuts through downsizing the number of police personnel was not only illegal, but it violated the City Charter.

National Police Association’s Part in the Ruling

The brief submitted by National Police Association indicated that the move mentioned above would put officers on duty at risk and the residents of Minneapolis. More importantly, reducing staff below the minimum requirement would reduce the 9-1-1 response time leading to escalating crime city-wide.

Minneapolis attorney Erick Kaardal, and head of counsel for the National Police Association for the brief, stated: “The Minneapolis city charter provision requiring a minimum police force is a social contract between the government, the public, and police.  The police collective bargaining agreement incorporates that social contract.  Therefore, if the City Council is going to defund the police beneath the city charter’s limits, the Minneapolis City Council needs to get approval from the public and the police federation first.”

In other words, the city council or mayor’s office was not allowed to make any defunding decisions without the police federation and the public signing on and allowing such changes to be madeTogetherer with the petitioners’ legal counsel led by Upper Midwest Law Center. National Police Association’s attorney, secured the much-needed victory on July 1, 2021, at Hennepin County District Court. The mayor and city council of Minneapolis were ordered to comply with the City Charter provision and re-fund the police force.

The Aftermath

After the much-anticipated victory on police staffing, Cathy Spann and the other petitioners gathered in a backyard located in the Jordan neighborhood later on Friday to celebrate their win. The North Minneapolis residents felt that they had lost good neighbors who left the city amidst violence last year.

Cathy Spann, Jordan Area Community Council executive director, felt it was unfair to force law-abiding and tax-paying citizens out of their homes. These people should not have to relocate due to insecurity that we could otherwise avoid with a well-staffed and competent police force.

According to Spann, black businesses in her neighborhood were suffering and felt it was high time someone took action.

However, even with the ruling and the influx of pandemic aid from the federal government, the mystery remains about how many police officers the Minneapolis PD will need to recruit to make residents feel safe post-George Floyd’s death.

It might be too early for the petitioners to celebrate as the city might decide to appeal the case. More importantly, they scheduled city council elections for November. Most Minneapolis residents are unsure if the new leadership might substitute the police department with a new agency.

According to another plaintiff Georgianna Yanto, crime has skyrocketed in Minneapolis since last year. Last summer, she recounted an incident where a group of young people stormed her property brandishing guns and chasing another young man.

She told the news outlets how the young people executed the runner violently down the street in her block.

Notably, activists think current police forces in and around Minneapolis are tainted and keep advocating for its abolishment. Nevertheless, the recent turn of events was a big win for the city. Cathy Spann and her colleagues feel that Minneapolis will be a safer place to live if the new order gets implemented.

National Police Association Presents Notable Facts

Within the amicus curiae, the document lawyers of the National Police Association presented to the court, startling facts came to light:

  1. As of December 10, 2020, Minneapolis recorded 532 gunshot victims, more than double the number reported last year.
  2. Carjackings were up 331% from the same period last year, and violent crimes surpassed 5,100, over 1,000 more than reported in 2019.

The amicus curiae did state that it could not necessarily define the root cause for the jump in crime in Minneapolis from year to year. Still, the judge heard the citizen’s plea. The idea that whatever the reason, pulling police officers off the street and not keeping minimum levels of officers on the force would only result in even more criminal behavior. This uptick in crime would also see fewer men in blue working in opposition to calm the activity.  All in all, the judge decided that, in the best interest of the community, he would rule with the citizens and the National Police Association

Erick G. Kaardal of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson represented The National Police Association. The case is 27-cv-20-10558 Spann et al. v. Minneapolis City Council, et al., in Hennepin County, Minnesota District Court.

To find out more about the National Police Association, go to nationalpolice.org.

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