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

City launches open data site

Posted by: Erin Golden Updated: December 8, 2014 - 3:32 PM

The City of Minneapolis' new open data portal made its debut Monday afternoon, providing information on subjects ranging from fires and police incidents to air quality study results.

Most of the data was previously only available to people who submitted formal requests to the city. The city says it is now one of 38 states and 46 cities and counties that make open data portals available to the public.

Other information available includes: 311 incidents, crime statistics, open rental licenses, open liquor licenses, digital inclusion survey results, city boundaries and neighborhood revitalization program budgets.

Data can be downloaded in charts and maps, and will be updated with more current information.

Bike advocates lobby for protected lanes in 2015

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: December 2, 2014 - 2:52 PM

Bike advocates delivered some 3,400 postcards to City Hall on Tuesday with the aim of ensuring that the city funds protected bike lanes.

Mayor Betsy Hodges has proposed $790,000 to install protected bike lanes in 2015, plus money to maintain them. The council votes on that budget next week.

Several hundred Eighth Ward residents signed cards stating why they want the protected lanes, which typically are divided from traffic lanes by a physical barrier. That was the most for any ward. The Fifth Ward had the smallest stack of cards, with 65 residents declaring their support for the lanes.

The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition delivered cards from each ward to the City Council member or a staff member, and to mayoral aide Peter Wagenius. They’ve been collected over the past eight months at events such as the six Open Streets events led by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, at which pedestrians and bikers have exclusive use of a major street for several hours.

The postcards let bikers put their support for the protected lanes in their own words.  In Ward 8, resident Faith Kumon wrote,  “I want to bike to work downtown without feeling terrified during rush hour.”  Anther ward resident, Jacquelynn Goessling added, “I love not being killed when I ride.”

Meanwhile, the city’s bike plan revision that will specify where to put those protected lanes is falling behind the original schedule of sending recommendations to the council by the end of the year. Only one project has been designated to date for 2015, which adds bike and foot lanes to a portion of NE Broadway St.

Some bike advocates have suggested that Minneapolis is falling behind other leading biking cities in not moving faster on the protected lanes, which are intended to help bikers feel more protected from cars and encourage more people to ride. The city has adopted a goal of creating 30 miles of such lanes by 2020, which was advocated by the coalition.

The postcards were delivered to City Hall in a plastic file box on a bicycle trailer hauled by Ethan Fawley, executive director of the coalition.   

The money for protected bike lanes made it through the council’s budget markup session with any effort to remove it.  That’s despite a comment recently by Council President Barbara Johnson that fighting crime should have a higher priority in the city’s budget than protected lanes.

Council Member Linea Palmisano on Monday aborted her proposed amendment to strip ongoing funding for pedestrian safety work by $250,000 of the $350,000 it gets.  

(Ethan Fawley, executive director of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, delivered a box of pro-protected bike lane postcards to City Hall on Monday on a bike trailer.)

Man charged in NE Minneapolis killing

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: December 1, 2014 - 3:37 PM

A 20-year-old man has been charged with robbing and killing a Minneapolis man as he walked home on a September morning in northeast Minneapolis.

Authorities charged Jeremiah Elijah Blackwell with murder and first-degree aggravated robbery, after matching the bullets that killed Eulalio Gonzalez Sanchez, of Minneapolis, to a gun they found in Blackwell's possession during later a traffic stop. Family members said that Gonzalez was shot in the early morning hours of Sept. 21 as he walked home from the bus stop after visiting his girlfriend.

Blackwell, who has been in custody since Oct. 8 after being picked up in connection with another robbery in the area, told police that he had been in church at the time of the shooting, but cell phone records placed him near the scene of the crime that morning.

MPD adds 24 new officers

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: November 28, 2014 - 6:08 PM

The Minneapolis Police Department welcomed 24 new police officers in a graduation ceremony earlier this week, bringing the department closer to where it was before a recent wave of retirements.

Chief Janeé Harteau on Tuesday tweeted out her congratulations to the latest batch of newly-hired officers, which brought the department's total to 823 officers, according to officials.

The new officers, half of whom are new cadets and half lateral hires from other departments, represented the latest additions to a force that earlier this summer shrunk to 770 officers, one of the lowest numbers in 25 years.

Another class, of 26 officers, graduated in September.

Officials said that another 12 cadets are making their way through the academy, with an expected graduation date in February. The department also aims to hire 28 community service officers and bring in between 20 and 30 cadets in January, officials said.

Chanhassen middle-schooler charged with creating kill list

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: November 28, 2014 - 3:12 PM

A seventh-grader at Minnetonka Middle School West in Chanhassen has been charged with making terroristic threats after he showed a fellow classmate a list of “people I want to kill,” authorities said this week.

The 13-year-old suspect, whose name was withheld because of his age, was arrested Tuesday evening and the iPad on which he wrote the since-deleted list was turned over to authorities for forensic examination, according to officials. The suspect appeared in court yesterday on charges of making terroristic threats, a felony, and fifth-degree assault, officials said.

In an email to parents, principal Paula Hoff said that school officials were notified of the incident by the mother of the other student, whose name appeared on the kill list. The incident reportedly occurred last Friday.

"We conducted an investigation and, following standard protocol in this type of situation, contacted local authorities," she wrote. “Situations like this may include suspension, expulsion and referral to law enforcement for prosecution."

Authorities gave no further details of the investigation, which they say is ongoing.

“We take these types of incidents very seriously and I will rigorously investigate every threat to the safety of our children,” Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said.


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