A chat with Mark Klukow, the citys new golden boy

Mark Klukow has been named the first One Man Minneapolis.

The contest set out to find a man that represents the best of the Twin Cities based on his community involvement, personality, intelligence and fitness.

Klukow, a Minneapolis police officer and a board member of the Peace Foundation, an organization that fights poverty and violence in North Minneapolis, was named the winner on July 18. He was selected from a pool of 235 applicants. More than 26,000 votes from people around the metro narrowed the field to five candidates. Then a group of seven judges and the audience at the July 18 event at the Pantages Theatre selected Klukow as the winner.

He received $5,000, a Tag Heuer watch donated by JB Hudson Jewelers and $1,000 for the Peace Foundation. The contest was produced by the marketing company MAYER and presented by Absolut Vodka and Village Green Companies.

Klukow, 38, recently spoke with the Southwest Journal about his work as a police officer and involvement with the Peace Foundation.

SWJ: Can you talk about your background with the police department?

I started in 1995 and I worked as a street cop, working nights in North Minneapolis for 12 years. In 2008, I did some undercover narcotics work Downtown and then last year when the schools opened up for the city — we took over the contract from the Park Police — then I took a job at Southwest High School. Now I work in the juvenile unit as a school cop.

A little bit about the 12 years on the north side, I was a rookie, became a seasoned cop and then a veteran. Seeing the blight and some of the problems in North Minneapolis led me to the Peace Foundation. We sort of found each other.  The Peace Foundation started in 2003 under City Council Member Don Samuels and his wife Sondra. In 2006, I started doing more community work — trying to connect street cops and citizens to one another. We used the lemonade stand to do that. We did it all over the North Side in 2006. We would essentially take a tent and throw a table or two up and put two cops behind it. We’d put it in the worst corner. Corners in North Minneapolis don’t stay bad. It’s a transient issue. … We’d block traffic and we’d displace the bad guys. We’d basically stand there all day. We’d have bikes, we’d roll around the neighborhood and knock on doors. The good folks would finally feel comfortable enough to come out. We’d hook up a hose to the hydrant, we’d flush it out and make lemonade. … We’d basically spend the day there.

What are you working on with the Peace Foundation?

The projects we’re working on include the art fair called FLOW on Broadway between Lyndale and Penn. … We have street parties where we take an area where crime has hit within the recent past. A lot of our energy comes from organizations, congregations, corporations and individuals from the west metro. We bring a stage and food and amenities. We bring our bike helmet project in there. We give out helmets to everyone. We have a Peace Ball, too. … Our vision is to cross these traditional boundaries between black and white, young and old and rich and poor. Because it is our problem — the problem isn’t just impoverished African American folks on the North Side of Minneapolis. It’s not just a Minneapolis problem. This is a metro problem. When we stop people as police officers and we have a guy from Coon Rapids dealing to guy who came from Burnsville. They are just using North Minneapolis as the grand central station. They are using it for crime. This is a great example why we need the good energy from Coon Rapids and Burnsville to come help us fix that. You don’t have to live in North Minneapolis to love North Minneapolis.