Mayor Rybak, Minneapolis and Saint Paul Officials Thank Director of Federal COPS Program for Help in Putting Officers on Streets
Federal COPS, recovery dollars put 13 Minneapolis officers back on the job in late 2009
February 2, 2010 (MINNEAPOLIS) Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Saint Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry, along with Minneapolis City Council Members Don Samuels and Betsy Hodges and Police Chiefs Tim Dolan of Minneapolis and John Harrington of Saint Paul, today thanked visiting United States Department of Justice COPS Program Director Bernard Melekian for the assistance of his office and the Obama Administration in putting officers on the street in both cities.
In late 2009, the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) office provided Minneapolis with dollars, targeted toward diversifying the police force, which allowed the Minneapolis Police Department to rehire 13 officers who had been laid off for one week, including graduates of MPD’s most diverse academy class ever.
"Minneapolis and Saint Paul are united in saying thank you to the Obama Administration for stepping up with this help," Mayor R.T. Rybak said. "This partnership with the federal government is a sign that we are united in keeping our cities safe.
"I’m particularly pleased that we were able to use this money to keep on the job a very diverse set of officers. Chief Dolan has been very successful in working with communities that have been historically underrepresented on our force to recruit and hire officers — and as a result of that success, MPD is more diverse than at any time in our history," Mayor Rybak added.
Mayor Rybak continued, "This funding is all the more critical to us at a time when our state government once again finds itself in a difficult fiscal situation. Because the COPS funding extends over several years, it will act as a bridge for us as we add officers while figuring out how to pay for them sustainably over the long term. In other words, with this money we’ve patched the roof, but we still need to rebuild the roof.
"We’re hoping that in the upcoming legislative session, the State will restore its long-standing partnership with cities — not just Minneapolis and Saint Paul, but across Minnesota. We know that everyone needs to do their part to help solve the fiscal crisis, but Minnesota cities have already done more than their share," Mayor Rybak concluded.
Saint Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry said, "The main principles of community policing are first, that you define it; second, that you make it portable; and third, that you make it sustainable. Under Chief Harrington’s leadership, we’ve done a great job in Saint Paul with the first two, but with the state budget in crisis, we’ve struggled with sustainability as we’ve taken cut after cut in Local Government Aid. While the federal COPS grant does not solve our sustainability struggle, it does give us several years’ breathing room as we go forward, and for that we are very grateful."
COPS Program Director Bernard Melekian said, "It’s not just about hiring, it’s about what you do with the officers you hire. A principle of community policing is that local problems demand local solutions, and Chiefs Dolan and Harrington are thinking and acting strategically to address local needs with the officers that COPS funding helped put on the streets.
"On behalf of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, I congratulate Minneapolis and Saint Paul for their successes in community policing. It is no better exemplified than in these two cities."
Published Feb. 2, 2010