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Minneapolis police ready to restore 12 laid-off community service officers

Twelve community service officers, laid off two years ago by the Minneapolis Police Department, could be on their way back to the city payroll. The 12 were laid off during a period of budget cuts.

There are more retirements than originally anticipated this year, resulting in staffing levels dropping from the current 850 officers to 827 by the end of the year,. Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said Tuesday.

“Investigation numbers are at rock bottom,” Dolan told members of the Ways and Means/Budget Committee.

He noted that 60 percent of the sworn officers are older than 45 and 15 percent older than 50. Officers can retire with a pension at age 50.

The cost of re-hiring the community service officers would be covered by $400,000 in funds left over from the department’s 2010 budget.

Dolan described the 12 CSOs as a diverse group, some with special language skills, that have been missed by their former colleagues.

Community service officers — who assist patrol officers in non-enforcement activities — are often hired while they are students studying for a career as a police officer. The job is considered a pipeline to bring officers into the department.

He also said the city has invested about  $26,000 in their education in addition to yearly salaries of $20,000 each for their part-time work with the Police Department.

“Return them to the force as soon as possible,” said Council Member Gary Schiff, describing the officers as “an investment we’ve already put a substantial amount of money into.”

 “There are several departments that are hiring right now, including St. Paul, that could take some of these people,” said Dolan who added he would like to hire all 12.  All of them would be eligible for promotion to police officer next January.

Two Cities blog, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul City Halls, is made possible in part by grants from The Saint Paul Foundation and the Carolyn Foundation.

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