Police will focus on high crime areas in Southwest

Citywide safety initiative outlines strategies to combat increasing problems

As part of a new citywide safety initiative, city officials will target crime hotspots in Southwest.

The new effort focuses on increasing police presence in high-crime areas and cracking down on juvenile and repeat offenders. The Safe City Initiative plan breaks down problems, strategies and goals for hot spots in each precinct in the city. The Southwest areas include portions of West Lake Street and Pleasant Avenue South, Stevens Square, Uptown and the Nicollet Avenue Corridor.

“There are times for tough enforcement, and this is one of them,” Mayor R.T. Rybak told City Councilmembers at the May 3 meeting of the Council’s Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee.

Rybak and Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan used the meeting to introduce the details of the Safe City Initiative, which will be funded in part with $2 million in new money from the state that will be matched with $2 million from the city. The main objective of the plan is to increase the number, visibility and presence of police officers in high-density and high-crime areas of the city in an attempt to reduce crime.

“We want people to say, ‘We notice more officers,’” Dolan said, adding that the Safe City Initiative is basically an “operational plan” for police officers to follow.

During the first three months of this year, homicides were up 16 percent citywide compared to the three-year norm, and aggravated assault was up 27 percent and robberies were up 20 percent compared to last year. In addition to increasing the presence of police officers, city officials hope to combat this rise in crime by creating a new juvenile unit in the Police Department and targeting loitering by tracking repeat offenders and routinely visiting those on probation.

Along with continuing community policing and outreach programs, as well as already successful measures such as the robbery task force, the plan calls for several patrol details in Southwest. “Buy and Bust” narcotics details will focus on targeting individuals buying and selling drugs, while saturation details will dispatch a number of officers in response to emerging crime patterns or when special events such as concerts or anticipated gang problems occur. In addition, officers will focus on pursuing geographic trespass orders against chronic offenders in the area. In the Lake Street and Pleasant Avenue area, the Metro Gang Strike Force will also assist with gang intelligence and saturation details.

The plan also outlines efforts needed from corporate and community organizations in Southwest. In the Lake Street and Pleasant Avenue area and Stevens Square, there is a need for funding for programming at Whittier Park; graffiti removal projects and community cleanup events; and resource cards for officers to give to youth and young adults who want jobs, social services or alternative places to “hang out.” In the Nicollet Avenue Corridor, there is a need for programming at King Park, Central Gym and Sabathani Community Center.

A complete copy of the Safe City Initiative can be found at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/mayor/docs/Safe_City_Strategic_Plan.pdf.

Kari VanDerVeen can be reached at [email protected] or 436-4373.