New crime prevention specialists join 5th Precinct

 

New CPSs eager to get to know Southwest communities

For the first time since March, the Minneapolis Police Department’s 5th Precinct has a full crime prevention specialist (CPS) roster.

CPSs are civilians who work with residents, neighborhood organizations and businesses to identify crime trends, develop crime-prevention strategies and resolve complaints about problem properties, among other duties. The 5th Precinct has three CPS positions, but recent staff turnover left one of the spots open for months. It was filled in October, providing needed relief to police staff and increased support to Southwest neighborhoods.

“It affords lieutenants and CPSs a little breathing room,” said Lt. Marie Przynski of the 5th Precinct. “Now they have more time to interact with the community and do more outreach.”

The 5th Precinct’s CPSs are Sarah Mahmud in sector one, Tom Thompson in sector two and Chelsea Adams in sector three. Thompson has served the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) since 2000 and worked in law enforcement for 24 years. As the veteran of the CPS trio, he’s been training in Mahmud, who was hired in September to replace a CPS who moved to North Minneapolis, and Adams, who joined the MPD last month.

Neither Mahmud nor Adams has worked in a police department, but a law enforcement background is not required to become a CPS, Przynski said. She said the job is more about people skills, so strong community outreach and communications experience is preferred.

“If I wanted a copy I would have gone to the shift and got one,” Przynski said.

Before joining the MPD, Mahmud worked at the Walker Art Center, where she corresponded with members and the community as member benefits coordinator. She has also worked on environmental conservation programs for the DNR as an Americorps member. Adams has a background in anthropology, film, computers and writing.

The new CPSs were chosen from 49 applicants for the positions, Przynski said.

Until Adams was hired, police staff split up the duties of the third sector CPS. The MPD also lacked a third sector lieutenant until this fall, which made the workload more unwieldy. While Thompson and Przynski dealt with overflowing schedules, long-term projects such as a resident satisfaction survey were put on hold.

Thompson said those initiatives are up and running again and neighborhoods are receiving more attention from the MPD.

“I’m very happy these two (CPSs) are on board,” Thompson said. “It’s been quite difficult to coordinate all these different neighborhoods.”

Some residents noticed the reduced MPD staff.

Jennifer Swanson, NRP coordinator for the Armatage Neighborhood Association, said the area experienced several burglaries and auto thefts during the summer. Without a CPS, the neighborhood group had to be more proactive about educating neighbors about the incidents and working to prevent further crime.

“There definitely was a void that we felt,” Swanson said.

The new CPSs said they are eager to get to know and help their communities, but they don’t expect to make a difference overnight.

“I feel like it’s going to be a good year before I really know this job,” Mahmud said. “I’m really kind of a sponge right now.”

 

Jake Weyer can be reached at 436-4367 and jweyer@mnpubs.com.