Kingfield starts new crime and safety group

KINGFIELD — A couple years of increased violent crime and new drug dealing trends has renewed interest in Kingfield neighborhood safety and prompted the creation of a permanent Crime Prevention and Safety Committee (CPaS).

The Kingfield Neighborhood Association (KFNA) board voted in May to create the committee from its temporary CPaS Task Force — a group of community members who meet monthly with Minneapolis Police personnel to discuss crime trends and prevention strategies. The board also voted to start a Block Club Task Force to strengthen neighborhood connections.

Crime in Kingfield is down this year compared to 2006 and 2007, according to Minneapolis Police Department statistics. But a shooting at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 40th & Nicollet last summer, an assault and kidnapping there in October, and a rise in drug dealing from cars, termed mobile drug dealing, during the last couple years are some of the issues that have held the community’s attention.

“I want a safer neighborhood, and I want that safety maintained over time,” said Kingfield resident and new KFNA board member Chris DeParde, who pushed for the CPaS committee. “That’s one of the reasons I got involved (with KFNA) in the first place.”

DeParde, a 17-year resident who has been involved with the neighborhood group in the past, said his yard was the escape route for the young man who was shot last summer. DeParde said he also saw mobile drug dealing get out of control in the neighborhood.

The direct impact those incidents and others had on his life was scary, he said, and they eventually caused him to act.

“I thought, I can sit here and hide or I can move away or I can get back involved,” he said.

KFNA Project Organizer Joanna Hallstrom, who has overseen the CPaS Task Force, said a permanent crime committee wasn’t started in the past because interest in the topic came and went as crime trends fluctuated. So crime-related task forces also came and went.

But the most recent task force, started in early 2006, hasn’t lost popularity.

“The interest hasn’t waned at all. It’s continued,” Hallstrom said. “And it’s spurred some great resident-led initiatives.”

Those include an organized neighborhood patrol group, participation in a court-watch program and the development of a West-of-King Block Club organization.

CPaS Task Force participants will form the foundation for the committee, and one of those community members will be appointed soon to lead the group, said new KFNA President Tom Parent, who made the motion to start the committee and the Block Club Task Force.

Parent said the block club initiative is separate because its purpose is to bring neighbors together for reasons beyond crime.

“From what we hear, block clubs tend to be much more successful if they’re not based on single issues, particularly crime issues,” he said.

Tom Thompson, a crime prevention specialist with the Minneapolis Police Department’s 5th Precinct, agreed and said the formation of such clubs is too often in response to a specific problem. Crime task forces can be the same way, he said, so he was glad to see a permanent committee formed in a down year from crime.

“I wish every neighborhood would start a crime and safety committee,” Thompson said. “Not as a response to crime, but to be proactive.”

The Kingfield CPaS Committee will keep the same schedule the CPaS Task Force did, meeting on the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S. The June 17 meeting is an exception; it will be a potluck at 40th & Van Nest, still starting at 7 p.m.

The first Block Club Task Force meeting has not been set yet.

For more information on either of the new groups, call KFNA at 823-5980.

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