Two new efforts to fight gun violence in north Minneapolis were unveiled Friday by Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau, including joint patrols between Minneapolis officers and other law enforcement agencies and new civilian patrols of troubled north side neighborhoods.
The plans were drawn from a "Northside Safety Summit" held last month in which Harteau brought together top law enforcement officials from across the Twin Cities to meet with north Minneapolis neighborhood representatitves, faith leaders and others to talk about crime and north Minneapolis.
Speaking Friday, Harteau said she has developed "11 action steps" for what she calls "Phase 1" of her strategy, the first two steps being the new patrols. The other nine steps were not immediately shared but will be unveiled in the weeks ahead, said a department spokesman. Harteau also stressed that the strategy relies on coordinating law enforcement agencies and building relationships.
"It's about commitment and synergy; this is just the beginning," said Harteau.
The joint patrols, dubbed Joint Enforcement Teams, could see Minneapolis officers patrolling with officers from other agencies, perhaps the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office or Metro Transit Police department, Harteau said. They will patrol areas with a history of violent crime. The patrols will be in addition to what's already scheduled and paid for, said Harteau.
City Council president Barb Johnson said funding for the JET patrols hasn't been approved yet. They're slated to begin June 1, according to Harteau.
The civilian patrols began Thursday evening. V.J. Smith, the president of MAD DADS, and Bishop Richard D. Howell of Shiloh Temple said the first "Faith Patrol" walked along West Broadway.
"We took a group of young men out with us that were formerly in gangs," said Smith. "What we want to do is not to only patrol but to show them what it's like to give back."
The civilian patrols are meant to be engaging and friendly, not confrontational, but they will patrol areas that have seen violent crime, said Howell.
Also present at Harteau's press conference on Friday were U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, City Council president Barb Johnson, ATF special-agent-in-charge Scott Sweetow and many of the top leaders of the police department.
Stanek said he would add extra patrol cars to north Minneapolis this summer. City Council president Johnson said she's hearing from constituents that they want to see response times improved. A recent "Results Minneapolis" report showed the average response time for top priority calls was nine minutes and 14 seconds citywide, which is slower than in years past. In the fourth precinct, which covers North Minneapolis, the average response time was 10 minutes and three seconds.
Response times were slower last year just as police department staff numbers fell to one of their lowest levels in a decade, with roughly 800 sworn officers. There's money available to hire 50 more officers, but hiring new officers takes time, said Johnson.