Minneapolis Pays $772K For Sculpture Despite City's Severe Police Shortage
Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis city leaders have unanimously voted to dump over $772,000 into a moving sculpture for the new Public Service Building even though the city’s police force doesn’t have enough officers to respond to 911 calls.
The Minneapolis City Council adopted the plan without any discussion on Oct. 25, KMSP reported.
The sculpture itself came with a $394,517 price tag, plus another $377,590 for electrical, ceiling and programmable lighting components associated with the artwork.
The completed project will change shape in accordance with outside weather conditions, and is planned to be the centerpiece of the building’s two-story atrium, KMSP reported.
“We wanted a piece that would capture people’s attention when they came into the building," City Arts Administrator Mary Altman told the news outlet. "We wanted a piece that would be interesting and exciting. We also wanted a piece that would be interesting to people who come to the building over and over again."
The motorized sculpture, which will be suspended from the ceiling, is intended to mimic “a rippling lake or a flock of birds,” city staff members told KMSP.
But many downtown business owners, professional sports teams, and residents said they would rather those funds be spent on increasing the presence of law enforcement officers in the area.
Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Chairman Joe Tamburino said he was stunned to learn that the sculpture, which he described as a “big fish net,” was going to come with such a hefty price tag, KMSP reported.
Tamburino argued that funneling funds into such a project is evidence that the city’s priorities are out of alignment.
"I’m sure you could find an enterprising young person who will give you a beautiful painting or sculpture or statue," he told KMSP. "To give this to an operation out of Atlanta that’s going to cost over $700,000 and be moving all the time so we can see the [weather] changes in the city? Unnecessary!”
“You want to see the changes in the city? Look outside,” he suggested.
Under city ordinance, 1.5 percent of capital projects must be spent on public art, KMSP reported.
The art budget for the Public Service Building, which is slated to open in the fall of 2020, has been set at $2 million, according to the city’s website.
The city has also dumped another $85,000 into an initial prototype of the moving sculpture, KMSP reported.
Over the past year, there weren’t enough police officers on duty for police to immediately send officers to respond to 6,776 “priority one” emergencies, FOX News reported in September.
A priority one call is assigned for “an imminent threat to personal safety, or the loss or damage to property exists," including shots fired, stabbings, and sexual assaults, FOX News reported.
Minneapolis police were also unable to respond to seven “priority zero” calls, including one for a baby that had stopped breathing and another for an officer in trouble.
FOX News reported that the Minneapolis Police Department’s website said priority zero calls were for “those situations where a known crisis exists that threatens the life of an individual. This is the highest possible priority and the fastest possible response is desired. The MECC objective is to have squads en route to the call within 30 seconds of receipt by the dispatcher.”
“To have to look someone in the eye and tell them that we were unable to get there because we do not have enough resources – it’s unacceptable,” Minnesota Police Chiefs Association President Andy Skoogman told FOX News.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has asked the city to put 400 more officers on the street over the next few years to make up for the shortage, but Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said that the city’s budget wouldn’t allow for such an increase, CNN reported.
Frey has instead proposed adding only 14 police officers to the force, FOX News reports.
But the city council has committed to even fewer than that.
Minneapolis City Councilmember Alondra Cano told FOX News in an earlier interview that the council acknowledged the crime crisis but felt investing in the department’s resources and diversifying the personnel was more important.
“I do appreciate that the mayor has put forward an investment strategy in our department because we can’t walk around with the same broken department since the 1950s,” Cano said. “We’re thankful that the information is out in the open. We would rather have a truthful conversation than pretend like this isn’t happening.”