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

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.”

Harteau, other big-city police chiefs talk race relations

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: December 12, 2014 - 12:55 PM

The cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have sparked “a long overdue” conversation about race and police interaction, Minneapolis police Chief Janeé Harteau said in an interview this week with CBS News.

The interview can be found here (an extended version is also available online).

"People are frustrated (and) rightfully so,” Harteau told CBS reporter Jeff Pegues. “What's positive I think is that we're having a national conversation about race relations and police, and frankly it's a long overdue conversation.”

The interview, which also included the police chiefs of Milwaukee, Houston and Charlotte, touched on the national unrest in the wake of the recent grand jury decisions not to indict white officers in New York and Ferguson, Missouri in the deaths of Brown and Garner. A new CBS poll found that 54 percent of blacks say they’ve been unfairly targeted by the police.

"Now I'm not saying that police officers are racist by nature, but the situation can enhance biases after you're hear on the job," said Houston police Chief Charles McClelland. "If you're a police officer and you work in certain neighborhoods and certain communities, and the people you're arresting look a certain way, behave a certain way it's easy for someone to get stereotyped."

Milwaukee police Chief Edward Flynn, whose comments on race and crime recently went viral, defended criminal profiling as a legal and a useful police tool, citing statistics that point to disproportionately larger numbers of blacks tied to violent crime in his city.

Another CBS poll showed that 61 percent of Americans say that police need better training.

"I think there's always opportunities to improve our training. What we expect in our police officers is different than what we expected them to do 30 years ago," Harteau said. The ability to communicate: we're in the people business. We have to be able to communicate, it's our number one tool."

MPD reveals sneak peek of body cams pilot program

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: December 11, 2014 - 1:56 PM

The Minneapolis Police Department on Wednesday released video taken by officers wearing body cameras as part of a new pilot program in three of the city’s five precincts.

The 15-minute long video, with commentary by assistant chief Matt Clark and deputy chief Travis Glampe, shows traffic stops captured on camera by several of the 36 patrol officers – from the First, Fourth and Fifth precincts – participating in the program that started last month. On Wednesday, the City Council approved a four-percent increase in the police department's $148 million budget, which included $1.1 million for the diminutive cameras.

Proponents hope the cameras will encourage both officers and the public to be on their best behavior, although their deployment has also raised concerns about privacy and cost.

The department has yet to flesh out its camera policy, a draft of which was released last month, though officials have said officers will be required to turn on their cameras during most of their encounters with the public.

Clark said in the video that camera footage will be stored for one year on servers maintained by Taser international and VieVu, the two companies participating in the six- to nine-month pilot project – video with “evidentiary value” will be stored for six years.

"Our policy was put in place to give our officers the ability to turn the cameras on an off based on the criteria listed in the policy," Glampe said. "Anytime an officer takes enforcement action, thinks they're going to take enforcement action or believes that the event should be recorded, they should be turning on the cameras at that point."

Police seek public's help in search for kidnapper

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: December 9, 2014 - 9:00 PM

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspected kidnapper over the weekend  who apparently lured a 7-year-old north Minneapolis girl into his car by asking her to help him “find his puppy.”

The young girl was found walking about 2½ blocks from home nearly two hours after her disappearance, apparently after being dropped off by the suspect.

Police described the wanted man, whose blurry image was captured on a neighbor’s surveillance camera and handed out to reporters Tuesday, as white and in his 30s. He was reportedly wearing a dark jacket with a gray or white "horizontal stripe," Minneapolis deputy police Chief Kris Arneson said at an afternoon press conference at police headquarters. A police spokesman previously described the man as having “possibly ruddy or pockmarked, splotchy complexion.”

He was reportedly driving a dark green small or midsize sedan, police said.

Arneson, who was flanked by several homicide detectives, declined to comment on any specifics of the investigation, but said that police were still actively investigating.

The girl had been playing with friends not far from her home, at a park on the 3100 block of James Avenue N., when the man approached them around 3 p.m. Saturday, a police spokesman said.

Police said that the victim recounted being taken to a house with two large dogs, one white and one black.


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