Police seek community input to battle neighborhood crime

Residents asked to help outline police strategies

Minneapolis Police are seeking help from residents to develop this year's neighborhood policing strategies.

The department launched a program called the Neighborhood Policing Plan this year that requires police staff to work with residents to identify the main crime concerns in particular neighborhoods and develop strategies to combat those incidents.

&#8220The citizens in a neighborhood are really our customers,” said 1st Precinct Insp. Jane Harteau. &#8220And, in essence, the customer is always right.”

Working with residents to reduce crime is nothing new for the police department, said Deputy Chief Rob Allen of the department's Patrol Bureau, who has led the development of this year's plan. But the department hasn't taken a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach to police strategies in the past or had a formal method of documenting community engagement, he said.

Allen said residents define their communities with neighborhoods more than precincts, and each neighborhood has its own unique crime issues. Sector lieutenants and crime prevention specialists are in the process of working with neighborhood groups to determine the most significant crimes for each neighborhood and lay out plans for tackling them.

&#8220I think it's helpful for community members and law enforcement to agree on strategies to reduce crime in a neighborhood,” said Dave Delvoye, safety coordinator for the Stevens Square Community Organization.

Delvoye said alcohol-related crimes and car break-ins are a couple prominent crimes the neighborhood has identified.

Christy Devans, chairwoman of the Calhoun Area Resident Action Group Crime and Safety Committee, said robberies and narcotics are among the crimes that will be part of her neighborhood's plan. Devens and other neighborhood group members said they already meet regularly with police to discuss crime trends, but this year's plan &#8220adds a little structure to our meetings with them,” she said.

Tom Hoch, chairman of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Crime and Safety Committee, said police in the 1st Precinct have been good about listening to resident concerns. Nuisance crimes such as littering and loitering continue to be a focus Downtown, he said.

But he said some concerns including the number of officers in the area and lack of buy-back programs this year can't be addressed in a neighborhood plan.

&#8220There are challenges that go beyond what Jane can do,” Hoch said.

Luther Krueger, a crime prevention specialist in the 1st Precinct, said residents should also be getting involved in battling crime in their neighborhoods. Part of neighborhood policing is finding ways for communities to be a part of keeping their neighborhoods safe, he said. Crime and safety committees and block clubs are examples of how some neighbors have become involved, he said.

&#8220This is going to be the year where if we haven't asked it of you before, we're going to ask you this year,” he said.

Krueger said the department would try to reach out beyond neighborhood organizations to receive input by sending out information via e-mail lists. Other neighborhood leaders said they would do the same.

Allen said each neighborhood's policing strategy will eventually be available online. At the end of the year, the department will evaluate how well the neighborhood-policing plan worked and make a decision about what to do in coming years.

Police staff said the plans are flexible and the department won't lose sight of crime trends not identified by neighborhoods.

&#8220Robbery isn't listed for Whittier,” said Insp. Kristine Arneson of the 5th Precinct. &#8220But I'm not going to stop going after robberies in that neighborhood.”

Reach Jake Weyer at 612-436-4367 or [email protected].