Mpls mayoral candidates divided over whether city needs more police

Minneapolis mayoral candidates debate at The Minneapolis Club on Wednesday evening, Sept. 18, 2013. From left to right: Dan Cohen, Bob Fine, Mark Andrew, Betsy Hodges, Don Samuels, Jackie Cherryhomes, Stephanie Woodruff and Cam Winton. (Photo courtesy of The Minneapolis Club)

The size of the Minneapolis police department is emerging as an issue in the Minneapolis mayor’s race. At a debate Wednesday night at the Minneapolis Club, candidate and former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew called for an increase in the police force. But Andrew hasn’t decided how many officers he wants to add.

“The police department will tell us that they need at least a hundred,” said Andrew. ” I don’t think that’s in the cards. But I do that a modest increase in my first budget year is in the cards.”

Andrew says the city could pay for additional police thanks to increased state aid. Council Member Betsy Hodges, Former Council Member Jackie Cherryhomes and attorney Cam Winton also say they want to grow the department.

But Council Member Don Samuels, who chairs the city’s Public Safety Committee, says that’s not feasible.

“Yes we need more police. We could always use more police, but at this time we can’t afford it,” Samuels said. “We’d have to tax our citizens more or we’d have to get even more LGA, and we’re not going to get it.”

Minneapolis will see a $10 million dollar increase in its Local Government Aid from the state of Minnesota next year.

Former Council Member Dan Cohen and businesswoman Stephanie Woodruff say it’s not necessary or not financially feasible to hire more police.  Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine hasn’t taken a stand on the issue.