Three and a half years doesn’t seem like much time at any job, but in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), anything more than a couple years in one position is noteworthy.
So when Lt. Marie Przynski left the 5th Precinct, where she’s worked since Christmas 2004, to take a job as commander of the MPD’s Narcotics Unit, it should have come as no surprise to anyone.
“She’s been here 40 months, which is a long time to be a sector lieutenant in the city,” said Insp. Kristine Arneson.
But for community members who have developed a close relationship with
Przynski during her stint in Southwest, the news was hard to take.
Przynski — whose sector included West Calhoun, East Calhoun, CARAG, Lyndale, Kingfield, East Harriet and Linden Hills — worked her last 5th Precinct shift April 11. According to her colleagues and many residents who have come to know her, her time in Southwest was well spent.
“The one thing I really wanted her to do was build partnerships in sector two because we were lacking in that, and she really brought things together very nicely,” Arneson said.
Przynski is an MPD veteran who started her career with the department in the mid-1980s. She’s worked in a variety of positions including sector lieutenant in North Minneapolis. She said her decision to leave the 5th Precinct wasn’t easy, but the new job was too enticing to pass up.
“I’m sorry to be leaving,” she said. “It was a really a hard decision, but for me personally it’s an opportunity that I really want to explore in my career.”
During her time in the 5th Precinct, Przynski was involved in the creation of the Lyndale Bike Patrol, a court watch program, a problem properties task force, a cyber block club in East Harriet and several other initiatives.
“Community efficacy is a passion of mine,” Przynski said. “It’s enjoyable for me when I see communities that are actually enhanced or reach that level of efficacy, so that they’re out there or, as the adage goes, ‘doing it for themselves.’ That truly means that they’re a success.”
Joanna Hallstrom, NRP project organizer for the Kingfield Neighborhood Association (KFNA), said Przynski attended every neighborhood Crime and Safety Committee meeting. The lieutenant was as friendly as she was accessible and helpful, Hallstrom said.
“I think a lot of residents see her as a friend as well as a police officer,” she said.
Chris Gallaty, one of the creators of East Harriet’s cyber block club network, said Przynski was a big supporter of that effort. He said losing her was a “huge blow.”
Matt Perry, president of the East Harriet Neighborhood Association, said he was also disappointed by her departure.
“She has contributed a lot to what my philosophy of a block club is,” Perry said.
Przynski said she wouldn’t be giving up her Southwest friendships and would probably be around the 5th Precinct occasionally, checking in on meetings or grabbing a cup of coffee with residents.
Her new job involves investigating drug trades, sales, possession and distribution citywide. It’s a job that requires developing strong community connections, something Przynski is well versed in.
“I think that it will be a challenge and something I was interested in doing beforehand, and I think this is an opportunity to explore and broaden my horizons,” she said.
Lt. John Kelly, who goes by Jack, has taken over Przynski’s position in the 5th Precinct. Kelly is also a longtime MPD employee who most recently oversaw the Sex Crimes Unit. He has also worked as a sector lieutenant in the 3rd Precinct.
He is a Southwest resident and said he has worked some extra shifts in Uptown and is eager to meet the community.
“I hope to connect with them and make things happen,” he said.
Arneson said sector lieutenants average about two to three years at one location. They are shifted into different positions as different needs come up in the department, and good lieutenants often keep moving up the chain of command until they retire.
The 5th Precinct has two other sector lieutenants. Lt. Eddie Frizell has overseen the north side of the precinct for about a year and Lt. Chris Hildreth has looked after the southern neighborhoods for nearly two years.
Arneson said she’d like to keep her lieutenants around for as long as she can, so they form the same community bond Przynski did.
“It’s my goal here to have my sector lieutenants in place for a long period of time,” Arneson said. “And Marie enjoyed it. She was doing an outstanding job for me and the community.”
Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or [email protected]