New police inspector for 5th Precinct takes the helm

Insp. Kathy Waite takes over in July as commander of Southwest Minneapolis’ 5th Precinct. Image courtesy of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Kathy Waite, former 2nd Precinct inspector, takes over command of Southwest Minneapolis’ 5th Precinct this month, swapping places with Insp. Todd Loining.

Waite arrives with 23 years of experience.

“There are a lot of incidents that you’ll never forget,” she said.

She remembers talking to a mother and father on a domestic violence call when a three-year-old walked in dragging a case of beer, hoping Waite could take it away.

“Even our youngest community members recognize what the problems are,” she said.

This is the first time Waite is specifically assigned to the 5th Precinct, but she’s policed here before. Working undercover, she posed as a prostitute on prostitution details.

“It was very interesting work, and very dangerous work,” she said.

For many years she served on the crisis negotiator team, responding to hostage situations or people barricaded in homes. She also served on the “SAFE Unit,” working closely with residents to address problem properties.

She’s spent a significant amount of time in North Minneapolis, working as a patrol supervisor and walking a beat on West Broadway. She was promoted to sergeant in North Minneapolis, and community members threw her a party and brought her a cake.

“No. 1 has been relationships, establishing relationships and building on those for success for everybody,” she said.

Waite said it’s a challenging time to work in law enforcement.

“There is a lot of negative press, and a lot of premature judgment on a lot of situations,” she said.

Although she couldn’t speak to what occurred in the officer shooting death of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, she said camera footage, while helpful, doesn’t tell the whole story of what everyone in a situation may be experiencing.

“People go into this work because they are passionate about helping other people,” she said.

Police are the ones who race toward gunfire, rather than run away from it, she said.

“We’re doing that, and we do that every single time,” she said.

Waite wanted to become a policewoman after years of watching Hill Street Blues and Magnum, P.I. Her parents thought it was a phase, and later refused to help pay for college unless she pursued another field. (They went on to become proud of her work, though still fearful.)

While in college, Waite worked as a reserve officer with the Roseville police, where she helped with large-scale events and directed lots of traffic. She entered the Minneapolis police force through the Cadet Program.

She’s worked a range of jobs in the department since 1993, including positions in the Narcotics Unit, Juvenile Unit and Internal Affairs. She served as a sector lieutenant in Northeast and Downtown Minneapolis. When the I-35W bridge collapsed, she was in charge of logistics to supply equipment for the recovery, and she managed logistics during the 2008 Republican National Convention. In the Special Operations Division, she was in charge of the K9 Unit, Traffic Unit and Disaster Strike Team.

She became inspector of the 2nd Precinct in 2013, and the precinct led the city in crime reduction for two years under her watch.

“It was really a situation where a lot of different organizations came together. … A lot of great relationships, a lot of hard work and dedication by officers,” she said.

Many factors influence crime rates, she said, including the incarceration of high-crime individuals. She’s found that relationships do a great deal to help curb crime, however.

“I prefer talking to people in person or over the telephone,” she said. “We’re getting more officers out of their cars as much as possible.”

Police Chief Janeé Harteau announced the staffing change as a way to ensure departmental leaders continue to grow for future assignments.

Loining has worked as the 5th Precinct commander since 2014. He recently received an award for “outstanding service” from the Karmel Mall Somali Business Association.

“While the city’s current inspectors are both beloved and respected by their communities, the new assignments will allow them to bring fresh ideas and energy to other parts of the city while continuing the current initiatives that are already working well,” department leaders said in a statement.

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Summer crime trends in the 5th Precinct

Insp. Todd Loining provided an overview of the crime patterns police were tracking in early July.

— Police are focusing on “micro hot spots” that experience a disproportionate number of crimes. Those areas include a two-block radius around Franklin & Clinton, which saw four stolen vehicles and two recovered stolen vehicles in the past week, Loining said. Another area of focus is the Lake Street corridor, as well as Franklin & Nicollet stretching up to Stevens Square. Undercover officers are working to spot crimes in progress and call for marked squad cars. During one incident the night of July 7, Loining said officers spotted two acquaintances in an argument that escalated into a physical fight at 24th & Garfield. A suspect stabbed the acquaintance in the chest, he said, and after a short foot chase, police apprehended the suspect.

— Violent crime is up 20.9 percent year-to-date as of July 4.

“Most of what is driving this is an increase in sexual assaults,” Loining said.

In 2015 there were 16 rape incidents reported at this time, and in 2016 there are 31 to-date. Loining said about half of the incidents are among acquaintances, occurring indoors in residences, often with alcohol involved. Loining said he’s asking officers on routine patrol to stop and check on people who appear to be intoxicated and walking alone.

“When you leave the bars, try to use good judgment, safety in numbers, try to get a ride as opposed to walking,” he said. “…If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.”

— Robberies are up 20.6 percent over last year. In four of five robberies in the past week, victims were intoxicated and no weapons were used, Loining said. Two of the robberies took place outside bars, he said.

— The Kingfield neighborhood recently convened a community meeting in response to shots fired at the 4400 block of Nicollet Avenue. Crime prevention specialists are working with a landlord of a building where police have responded to several calls for service.

— Burglary is down significantly year-to-date, amounting to 32.7 percent, a reduction of 136 incidents.

— Auto theft is up citywide, and it’s up nearly 16 percent in the 5th Precinct. In some cases, people are leaving cars unattended and running, according to Loining. In one recent incident, he said a resident left a car unlocked with keys on the seat in the Kmart lot at Nicollet & Lake.