What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Posts about Public safety

Another leadership shake-up at the MPD

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: December 24, 2014 - 4:20 PM

Chief Janeé Harteau is shaking up her senior staff again, just over a month after a leadership shakeup that included the demotion of two top officials.

Harteau this week handed the reins of the newly formed recruitment and administration division to Gerald Moore, who used to run the professional standards background unit, officials said.

Moore, who came up through the department ranks – from patrol to child abuse to homicide – has received numerous awards and commendations, including two Lifesaving Awards and two Chief’s Awards of Merit, officials said.

The 31-year veteran replaces Eddie Frizell, who was given the command last month after being demoted from deputy chief of patrol following an unsuccessful run for Hennepin County sheriff. Frizell at the time expressed dismay that he hadn't been given an explanation for his demotion.

In his new position, Moore will oversee the fledgling recruitment and administration division – comprised of the property and evidence, transcription, records, fleet, stores, backgrounds, CSO (community service officer) and explorers units – charged with “recruiting highly qualified and diverse candidates,” according to officials. Moore has in the past been outspoken about the lack of minority officers on the force.

Last month's reshuffling came as Harteau continued to work to improve the department’s community relations policies after public criticism that some officers using excessive force. 

Harteau declined, through a spokesman, an interview request.

The chief previously appointed First Precinct inspector Medaria “Rondo” Arradondo to the powerful chief of staff position, a newly-created post that will place him in charge of directing, managing and overseeing department wide initiatives, projects and policy.

Fourth Precinct inspector Mike Kjos was pulled downtown to lead the First Precinct, while Lt. Mike Friestleben was named as his replacement. Robert Skoro, commander of the Special Operations Division, was also demoted to his civil service rank of lieutenant and reassigned, officials said.

Authorities to seek charges against organizers of MOA rally

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: December 24, 2014 - 4:14 PM

Police chant "move" as they march on protestors at the Mall of America. (AARON LAVINSKY)

Authorities are expected to seek charges against organizers of an anti-police-brutality demonstration that descended on the Mall of America during one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Bloomington city attorney Sandra Johnson said today.

Johnson said that potential charges against the organizers could range from disorderly conduct and trespassing to inciting a riot for their role in orchestrating a peaceful, but unsanctioned demonstration Saturday in which between 2,000 and 3,000 people flooded the mall’s rotunda, chanting songs and slogans. Twenty-five people were arrested at the rally and cited for trespassing.

Johnson added that her office was working on identifying the protest's leaders through news reports and social media.

“That’s standard operating procedure. You want to get at the ringleaders,” she said by telephone Tuesday, "to deter any future demonstrations at the Mall of America.”

Business owners would not be compensated for lost business after protesters held a small “die-in” in front of several stores, before being cleared out by police officers in riot gear, Johnson said. 

In a statement released Tuesday, the group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said it was “saddened” by the decision to “to misdirect public resources to protect corporate profits instead of supporting justice” for blacks.

“It’s clear that the Bloomington City government, at the behest of one of the largest centers of commerce in the country, hopes to set a precedent that will stifle dissent and instill fear into young people of color and allies who refuse to watch their brothers and sisters get gunned down in the streets with no consequences,” the statement read.

Rinks will open when Ma Nature says so

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: December 19, 2014 - 5:38 PM


You can’t hurry Mother Nature, so Minneapolis park officials are prepping ice skaters that rinks likely won’t be open by their scheduled start date on Monday, the first day of the school holiday recess.

But Edina's Centennial Lakes Park has been open for skating for much of December.
 
According to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, its crews need 10 consecutive days when the temperature stays at 20 degrees or colder in order to flood and open rinks.

But according to long-term weather averages for Minneapolis, there’s no stretch during the winter when that happens. The coldest stretch is from Jan. 11-17, when the daily high averages 21 degrees. The average is no higher than 22 degrees from Dec. 31 to Jan. 25.

Of course, weather varies from averages. Rinks opened on Dec. 21 last year. (Photo: That's Cece Magill trying lsles on opening day) . But recent temps have remained below the Park Board’s ice-making threshold only once in the last 10 days, and they’re not forecast to stay below that level in the next week.

The Park Board operates 47 rinks for skating, broomball, and hockey at 23 parks.  It said it hopes to have some open by the end of the month. The status of each rink can be viewed online. That shows no rinks open but you can sign up for e-mailed updates.

Can’t wait?  Try Lake of the Isles if you’re hardy enough.  The warming house isn’t open -- and neither is the rink officially -- but the ice has been thick to hold ice-flooding equipment and hockey boards have been installed.  It's shallow, like Centennial Lakes, so it freezes faster.

Don’t tell ‘em we sent you.

MPCA narrows riverfront particle search

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: December 16, 2014 - 9:40 AM

The search for firms contributing to a recent air quality violation in the upper riverfront of Minneapolis is narrowing to a smaller number of firms, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The agency reported in late November that its air quality monitor located just off the river’s West Bank  south of the Lowry Avenue Bridge had twice recorded violations of the state limit for total airborne particles.

Further examination found that iron particles made up the preponderance of airborne metal particles collected by the agency’s sampler, not surprising considering the number of metal recycling firms in the area.

Jeff Smith, director of the agency’s industrial division said it is currently looking at six to 10 firms within a one-quarter mile radius of the sampler as potential contributors to the particulates.  It’s now collecting information from them about their outdoor operations during the late October and early November sampling when the violations were recorded.

“Everyone within that quarter-mile range, we’re looking at very closely,” Smith said. He said the agency wouldn't discuss specific firms as potential violators during this investigative phase.

The violations were recorded little more than three weeks after the MPCA added monitoring for total particles to its sampling station in October.  It previously ad been checking for more harmful finer particles hourly since the start of 2013. The total particle count is a 24-hour sample collected every six days.

Smith said the agency’s goal is to reach company-by-company agreements for corrective action that will be transparent to all firms operating in the area.

The two violations haven’t been repeated to date, Smith said.  But they’re already causing changes in monitoring.  The initial plan was to stop monitoring for total particles by the end of this year, but Smith said monitoring will continue for at least a year.

Minneapolis to get help on juvenile-justice reform

Posted by: Erin Golden Updated: December 12, 2014 - 2:20 PM

Minneapolis has been selected to get extra help on its juvenile justice efforts from the National League of Cities.

The organization announced Friday that Minneapolis is one of six cities it has picked to offer technical assistance on juvenile-justice reform. The others are Philadelphia, Little Rock, Ark., New Orleans, Las Vegas and Gresham, Ore. The National League of Cities will set up a "Mayor’s Institute on Children and Families" so leaders of the cities can share ideas. It will also send staff members to visit Minneapolis and develop an "action plan" for its juvenile justice work.

In a news release, the National League of Cities pointed to Minneapolis' efforts to "improve and align community-based alternatives to arrest and prosecution; reduce racial disparities at arrest; and improve the chances that young people will succeed after they leave the juvenile-justice system."

Mayor Betsy Hodges said the outside help will allow the city to be "better positioned to serve as a local leader for juvenile-justice reform.”

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