Inspector Sean McGinty has been coordinating the operation of the Minneapolis Third Precinct since August 2019. It has been a year filled with events he could never possibly have imagined. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)[/caption]
The Third Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) covers such a huge square area that if it were a city, it would be third biggest in the state.
Its headquarters suffered serious fire damage and looting during the Uprising, and all staff have been disbursed to work in locations across Minneapolis. Inspector Sean McGinty has been in charge of the Third Precinct since last August. He said, “Our crime prevention specialists are working from home, our investigators are operating off-site, and our beat officers are storing their gear in various other precinct buildings.”
He continued, “We started the year with 110 sworn officers. Every city department had to make cuts due to COVID, and we were heavily impacted in our precinct. Most of my discretionary officers have been absorbed into the 911 response team, and the city is in a hiring freeze.”
What does that mean for this neighborhood?
The precinct had to cut 17 Community Support Officer (CSO) positions. A CSO works 20-30 hours per week in the MPD for up to three years in a civilian capacity, while enrolled in an approved, two-year law enforcement program. The program exists to improve communication, understanding, and cooperation between MPD employees and Minneapolis’s diverse communities.
New hires to the police department come from the pool of CSOs who have completed their training and education. There was a class of 29 recruits slated to start this month. According to Inspector McGinty, “It was the most diverse class we’ve ever had, and now we can’t hire them.”
It’s anybody’s guess what the MPD will look like after the 14-month review period has ended. All six city council members from the Third Precinct support dismantling the MPD. Inspector McGinty said, “That’s very difficult for us to understand. To be told that all police officers are racist and irredeemable is hard to take.”
“Everyone agrees that deep reform must happen within the police department, and I don’t know anyone who has done more to try and change policing than MPD Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.”
For his part, Inspector McGinty attends every community meeting he is invited to. He said, “It’s not uncommon for me to spend a couple of hours after a community meeting talking with residents. We can write the word ‘reform’ on a piece of paper, but until we start human building relationships – nothing will change.”
As mentioned in last month’s Longfellow Nokomis Messenger, Inspector McGinty encourages people who live in the Third Precinct to connect with him in small, safe, backyard conversations. He can be reached at sean.mcginty@minneapolismngov, and is interested in having honest, challenging conversations.
Need for community reform
While he believes strongly in police reform, Inspector McGinty also believes that there must be some level of community reform. He said, “There’s a hyper-partisanship rippling through everything right now. Everybody’s on a hair trigger. My officers tried to enter the homeless encampment at Powderhorn Park when an adolescent girl was raped last month, and they were chased out with rocks and bottles. We cannot provide public safety if we are under assault.”
In the wake of COVID cuts and the murder of George Floyd, there is a reduced police force in the Third Precinct more focused on crime response than crime prevention, according to McGinty. In addition to the lack of new hires and the eliminated community engagement positions, there have been officer resignations and PTSD claims filed for extended medical leave.
Editor's Note: The Longfellow Nokomis Messenger welcomes reader comments on the future of policing in Minneapolis. What do you hope to see? How do you feel about the nature of this change for our city? Comments can be sent to editor Tesha Christensen at tesha@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com.