Businesses, Residents Left to Fend for Themselves as Cops Retire.

Riot Police- Cops Retire - United Police Fund

It was mid-afternoon when the sport utility vehicles pulled up in front of Tim Mahoney’s downtown Minneapolis restaurant.

It  was a sunny Friday in mid-June, a glorious time of year in Minnesota as  spring turned to summer. Dining rooms statewide had just reopened after  months of mandated coronavirus closures and weeks of protests and riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death during an encounter with four city  police officers. Mahoney expected a busy evening at his Loon Cafe.

But the young occupants of the SUVs had their own plans that day.

They took over the patio of the restaurant next door to the Loon,  smoked pot, drank Hennessy from a bottle they’d brought, and blocked  paying customers from entering.

Mahoney and the owner of the neighboring restaurant asked them to leave. They refused.

Mahony called the Minneapolis Police Department’s non-emergency line; there was nothing the police  could do, they said. He tried 911, but was told no officers were  available.

So Mahoney walked to a nearby police precinct and tracked down an officer he knows.

“He said, ‘Tim, we’re not coming,’” Mahoney recalled. The officer  told him, “We don’t have the time. We don’t have the resources. We don’t  have the manpower, and we’ve been told not to get in conflicts like  this. You’re going to have to handle it yourself.”

So at 3 p.m. on a sunny Friday,  Mahoney and his neighbor closed their restaurants for the day. Less than  a week later, the neighboring restaurant closed for good.

Crime has been a growing concern for Mahoney and other downtown  Minneapolis business owners for years. Last fall, representatives of the  Minnesota Vikings, Twins, and Timberwolves authored a joint editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune urging the city’s leaders to invest in public safety for downtown  Minneapolis. There weren’t enough officers, and the city “isn’t as safe  as it once was,” they wrote. Other major employers have threatened to  leave.

Now, in the wake of Floyd’s killing and the ensuing civil unrest in  this city and others, concerns about crime are bordering on panic in  some quarters of Minneapolis.

Crime skyrocketed over the summer after some far-left city leaders  vowed to defund and dismantle the police department. Carjackings and  violent robberies are on the rise. More than 500 people have been shot  so far in 2020, double last year’s total. And the city is on pace for  its highest number of homicides in more than two decades.

The turmoil and lack of support from city leadership has taken its  toll on the beleaguered police force, which has seen a staggering number  of officers retire and resign in the past six months. The Minneapolis  Police Department is authorized for 888 officers and had an actual  headcount of about 840 earlier in the year, said Bob Kroll, president of  the city’s police federation.

Now, with a surge of retirements, pending retirements, and officers  out on personal leave – some suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic  stress disorder linked to the Floyd riots – the number of Minneapolis  police officers actually coming to work is down to 715, Kroll said, the  lowest number since he joined the force in 1989. Kroll suspects they  haven’t hit bottom yet.

“A lot of them aren’t retirements,” he said. “We’ve got a guy, he’s  leaving now to go become an excavator. We’ve got a lot of other younger  officers that are not retiring, but they’re going to other agencies.”

Some worry Minneapolis is in a vicious cycle: surging violence and  anti-police rhetoric leads to a flood of officers leaving the force,  leading to more crime, more violence, and more accusations that the city  isn’t getting its money’s worth from the overworked cops who remain.

And Minneapolis isn’t alone. Police forces in big cities across the country have similarly reported “unheard of” numbers of officers retiring or otherwise leaving their forces since the streets erupted in violence after Floyd’s killing in late May.

Some of the 2020 retirements are structural, tied to a mid-’90s  hiring boom and pension quirks. But police union heads and  criminal-justice experts say the summer’s civil unrest, combined with  anti-cop rhetoric from far-left city leaders and a lack of support from  progressive rogue prosecutors, has hastened police-officer departures.

More than 2,000 officers have left the New York Police Department this year, already the most in a decade, and city leaders have slashed the department’s budget by a billion dollars.

In Chicago, officers have been retiring at double the normal clip, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  City leaders blame the retirements on a change in health-insurance  benefits, but union leaders point at a lack of support from Democratic  Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

In Colorado, hundreds of officers retired or resigned after the  Democratic governor signed a law that made police personally and  financially liable for their on-duty actions, the Denver Post reported.

In Seattle, police chief Carmen Best resigned over the summer after  the city’s progressive leaders slashed her budget by $4 million and cut  the force by as many as 100 officers.

Even some smaller cities have seen an uptick in retirements and  resignations. In Asheville, N.C., 31 officers quit between June 1 and  September 10, a number the city’s police chief called “unprecedented”  and attributed to “very vocal opposition to law enforcement,” according  to reporting by the Asheville Citizen-Times.

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