Several Minneapolis Police Officers Quit Amid Lack of Support, Low Morale Following George Floyd's Death

At least seven police officers in Minneapolis have resigned from the department amid protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd, and city officials say six more are currently in the process of leaving.

Minneapolis Police Department officials cited new lows in morale and a feeling of abandonment on all sides of the discussion over their role in law enforcement moving forward. City spokesperson Casper Hill confirmed to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that seven officers have left and a half-dozen more are preparing to depart.

In exit interviews, departing officers said they felt pressured from all sides: state investigators, racial equality protesters, city leaders and the rioters who burned down a police station on national TV after city government officials surrendered the building. The department has reported multiple officers being injured during the protests over the past few weeks since Floyd's death.

A senior MPD official earlier this month wrote an email to supervisors that laid out how several officers in the department have simply walked off the job amid the unrest.

"During this busy and trying time I have heard secondhand information that there have been employees that have advised their supervisors that they separated with the city (or quit) without completing paperwork," deputy chief Henry Halvorson wrote in the e-mail, urging officers considering leaving to contact human resources and to conduct exit interviews. "We need to have the process completed to ensure that we know who is continuing to work."

But a police representative on Friday appeared to downplay the departure of the city's police officers following Floyd's death, saying the city's safety is not in peril.

"There's nothing that leads us to believe that at this point the numbers are so great that it's going to be problematic," spokesman John Elder said of officers leaving, which included detective and patrol officers. "People seek to leave employment for a myriad reasons -- the MPD is no exception."

City data shows the Minneapolis Police Department has around 850 total officers, which the Star-Tribune noted is about 40 people shy of the number authorized annually. But Elder remarked that a class of about 30 recruits is set to hit the streets later this summer following their graduation.

Newsweek reached out to the department for additional comments Sunday.

"Perhaps it's an opportunity to bring in new blood and new people," said Andy Skoogman, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police, in a Friday interview with the Star Tribune. "But I worry that there simply aren't the candidates out there" to replace them.

Nationwide discussions have been sparked to "defund police," with several Minneapolis government officials introducing ideas for community-based policing.

"We better start writing our ten-step plan for how to keep communities safe without police. Because police have failed," says Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison in a 60 Minutes interview scheduled to air this Sunday.

People sit on the street in front of a row of police officers during a rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 29, 2020 after the death of George Floyd. Karem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images