At least seven Minneapolis police officers have resigned amid the protests over police brutality and racial inequality, and more than half a dozen are in the process of leaving, department officials told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Minneapolis Police Department (MDP) insiders told the newspaper that officers are feeling misunderstood and stuck in the middle of a state probe, protests, city leaders and the media after the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody sparked nationwide protests.
City spokesman Casper Hill confirmed to the newspaper that seven officers had left the department, without providing demographic information. Police insiders said several officers in exit interviews pointed to a lack of support from police leadership and city officials as the demonstrations intensified.
The newspaper also reported that another seven officers are in the process of filing separation paperwork and that several others had to be convinced to stay. The departures include patrol officers and detectives.
The resignations come as the department is facing a state human rights investigation and calls for defunding and disbandment after former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes before Floyd died. Chauvin and three other officers present were fired from the department.
Henry Halvorson, MPD deputy police chief, signaled in an email to supervisors obtained by the Star Tribune earlier this month that officers were walking off the job without filing paperwork.
Police spokesman John Elder told the newspaper that the resignations would not affect the department's ability to provide public safety services.
“There’s nothing that leads us to believe that at this point the numbers are so great that it’s going to be problematic,” Elder said. “People seek to leave employment for a myriad reasons — the MPD is no exception.”
There are 850 officers in the MPD, almost 40 fewer than the number authorized for 2020. A class of 29 recruits will graduate and start policing in the summer, Elder said.
But the department also faces potential layoffs due to the coronavirus, at least 75 officers being eligible to leave with retirement benefits as of Memorial Day and a 25-year low in applicants, according to the Star Tribune.
The departures reflect what happened in 2015 following protests over Jamar Clark’s killing by police. At the time, officers said they felt “they were left to deal with the occupation on their own,” according to a federal report.