Rybak budget proposes $200 million for public safety

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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak on Wednesday unveiled his plans for a city budget that significantly increases funding for a wide range of public safety initiatives using revenue earned from past fiscal discipline and debt reduction.

Mayor Rybak’s proposal calls for nearly $200 million in public safety programs for the next year, restores the City’s police force to 893 officers, and equips police with cutting-edge camera technology.

“Minneapolis faces a serious public safety challenge that requires us to continue to make significant investments to fight crime,” Rybak said. “The budget I am delivering today will do just that: fund 43 new police officers, invest $1 million in each of the next two years in public safety technology and advance a series of initiatives that attack the root causes of crime.”

“The most powerful tool in any crime fighting strategy is to put more police officers on the street,” Rybak said. “By adding police officers, we will return to a police force of 893 sworn officers – the same number we had in 2002, and a significant achievement considering we did that in spite of a slowed economy, the end of federal public safety funding and $30 million less from the state.”

Saying that crime “is a complex problem that requires a complex set of comprehensive solutions,” Mayor Rybak outlined his public safety plan around four core themes: tough enforcement, crime prevention, protecting livability and a relentless demand for clear accountability and consistent results.

Although Mayor Rybak indicated that his budget helps make substantial progress on many city goals such as closing the gaps in housing and jobs, supporting transit, and protecting the environment, he said that is was right to focus on public safety first.

“To those struggling with public safety, we are saying today that there will be more police on our streets and they will be equipped with cutting edge technology to put more eyes on the street and keep chronic offenders off the street,” Rybak said. “We are investing in proven programs that win back kids who begin to slip away; we are investing in fighting graffiti, problem properties, homelessness and those basic issues that affect a neighborhood’s livability. We are investing in jobs, in housing, in community development, in young people, and in all the other upstream solutions that build hope.”

“We are sending a strong message to young offenders – especially those in the barbaric gangs responsible for random deaths – that no matter how old they are they will be held accountable.”

In his closing comments, Mayor Rybak called out to everyone in the community to become more involved in the fight against crime.

“We need values that say NO to people from elsewhere who think it’s alright to engage in illegal prostitution in our city, that say NO to a drug trade that literally leads to death, that say NO to a culture that settles conflicts with deadly weapons,” Rybak said.

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