New Community Safety Commissioner and Budget for Police Reform Announced

Two events initiated by Mayor Frey in mid-September highlighted public safety initiatives in the city. Frey nominated Todd Barnette, Hennepin County Chief Judge, to become the next community safety commissioner. According to Frey, he has “established himself as a leading voice in Minnesota public safety and criminal justice

communities.“ Barnette served as an attorney in the Hennepin County Attorney’s office as well as the county’s Public Defenders’ Office. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of St Thomas. At the time of the appointment, Barnette said, “I am dedicated to implementing effective strategies that address crime prevention, community policing, and overall safety and well being of Minneapolis residents and visitors.” Shortly after the Barnette appointment, the council dug into Frey’s 2024 budget of $16 million for policing and reform (this does not include the budget for the MPD itself).

Included is $7.6 million for changes that would add up to 34 full time (FT) positions: trainers, counselors for police, overtime costs, IT people, etc. Plus there are other costs associated with the settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the consent decree from the U.S. Dept of Justice. According to the September 13 Star Tribune, writer Dave Orrick said it is possible that an additional $6 million in new annual spending going forward may be required as the proposal is to add a 28 member implementation team (part of the 34 new hires) that includes workers with specialized tasks, not cops on the street.