Minneapolis, MN – Almost 200 officers, or 20 percent of the police force, are seeking “duty disability” to leave the Minneapolis Police Department and have cited the reason as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the George Floyd riots.
Violent riots began in the city after 46-year-old Floyd died while he was being arrested by Minneapolis police on May 25.
Fifty of the officers who have claimed disability were present when the 3rd Precinct was overrun by rioters on May 28 and burned to the ground, according to KMSP.
Attorney Ron Meuser, who is representing the officers seeking disability, said the siege of the 3rd Precinct was the tipping point for the many of the officers.
“They did not feel they were going to come home,” Meuser told KMSP.
He said some officers texted their goodbyes to their families and others said they had planned to save a bullet for themselves that night rather than being beaten to death by the mob.
The attorney said many of the Minneapolis officers he represents feel abandoned by their local leaders as well as the communities they’ve served for years, KMSP reported.
Meuser said that most of the officers seeking disability have between 16 and 23 years on the police force.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo recently told the city council that 65 officers left the department in the first six months of 2020, far higher than the usual annual average rate of 45 departures annually, The New York Times reported.
Dozens more officers are out on leave – sick and disability – since the riots that did hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas.
“It’s almost like a nuclear bomb hit the city, and the people who didn’t perish are standing around,” Minneapolis Police Officer Rich Walker told The New York Times.
Officer Walker, a police union official and 16-year veteran of the police force, said morale was so bad “I’m still surprised that we’ve got cops showing up to work, to be honest.”
Multiple officers told The New York Times that they felt like all officers were being stereotyped as bad because of the actions of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin is in jail awaiting trial on murder charges after he was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s necked for nine minutes during his arrest on May 25.
“If anything has the propensity to have a violent interaction, we already know we’re judged before they even hear the facts,” Officer Walker said.
He said officers felt like the community had turned their backs on them and they were less motivated to above-and-beyond the call of duty now, The New York Times reported.
“Cops have not been to the work level of before, but it’s not a slowdown,” the union official explained. “They’re just not being as proactive because they know they’re not supported in case something bad happens.”
Minneapolis City Councilwoman Alona Cano, an advocate for defunding the police department, said she wished the officers would work with the city while they dismantle the police department, The New York Times reported.
“I would prefer that people don’t resort to those extreme decisions of quitting or collecting a paycheck but not responding to calls,” Cano said.
She said they wouldn’t be losing their jobs overnight, The New York Times reported.
But many officers have become too disheartened to continue to put their lives on the line for the Minneapolis community.
One officer said he has lost his desire to do anything as a result of the PTSD and can’t get motivated to return to a nightmarish situation at work.
“I’m coming back to chaos,” the officer told The New York Times. “I’m coming back to no leadership. I’m coming back to an administration that doesn’t care about the officers. I’m coming back to a City Council that doesn’t want us here. I’m coming back to a family, or a community, that doesn’t want me here. Why do I want to come back to that?”
The officers’ attorney said that not one of the cops he represents has stayed home because they don’t want to work, KMSP reported.
“It’s an emotional beatdown on a daily basis for these guys,” Meuser said. “I’ve looked them in the eyes, not one of them is attempting to get out of working.”
“Every one of them, to a man and woman, said, ‘I never thought I would be leaving this way,’” the attorney added.