Reports of widespread unrest within the Minneapolis Police Department have gone national, with major news outlets following a story from the Star Tribune about a wave of recent resignations.
Even setting aside nascent talk from the City Council of defunding -- or disbanding, dismantling, abolishing; vague gerunds abound -- some police officers felt city and department leadership had hung them out to dry during protests and riots in the name of George Floyd.
Department morale "sunk to new lows in recent weeks," the Star Tribune reports, citing clashes with protesters, press scrutiny, a just-opened state investigation into the department (which, as a result, will have to put a pause on chokeholds), and the abandonment of the Third Police Precinct.
"They don't feel appreciated," retired MPD officer Mylan Masson told the Strib. "Everybody hates the cops right now. I mean everybody."
That sounds like hyperbole. So does the notion that cops are turning in their badges en masse.
Here's the total damage:
City spokesperson Casper Hill confirmed that seven officers have left the department, but did not make information about them available. Although their demographics and individual motivations are unclear, several officers in exit interviews cited a lack of support from MPD leadership and City Hall as protests escalated, according to the insiders, who requested anonymity so they could speak freely. Another seven officers are in the process of filing separation paperwork, and several others had to be talked out of leaving.
Assuming all seven in that second group actually resign, that's roughly 1.5 percent of the total workforce of "about 850."
Police spokesperson John Elder tells the Strib the number of departures are not "so great that it's going to be problematic," and that the department will add a class of 29 graduating recruits (more than double the number who just quit) later this summer. Elder added that, as with other jobs, cops resign for "a myriad of reasons."
(We can think of a good one.)
For comparison's sake, 14 is the same number of cops who signed on to an open letter last week condemning ex-cop Derek Chauvin, charged with murder in Floyd's death. Chauvin had "failed as a human and stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life," they wrote.
Claiming to speak for a "vast majority" of the department, that group added:
"We are officers who represent the voices of hundreds of other Minneapolis Police Officers. Hundreds. We acknolwedge that Chief [Medaria] Arradondo needs each of us to dutifully follow him while he shows us the way. We stand ready to listen and embrace the calls for change, reform and rebuilding."
So... which is it? Is a significant percentage of the department so disillusioned with a lack of support from public officials that they're thinking of quitting? Or are "hundreds" so disillusioned by George Floyd's murder they're ready for a "rebuilding" of the entire department?
Add rebuilding to the list of gerunds. We'll get back to you with definitions as they become available.