In hopes of curbing escalating street violence in south Minneapolis, police say they have assigned additional officers to boost daily patrols in several neighborhoods.
Under the plan, officers — drawn from all five precincts, in addition to several of the department’s specialty units, including the Community Emergency Response Teams — will focus on several neighborhoods, such as Phillips and Powderhorn, which have seen most of the recent incidents, police officials said.
“It’s going to be a saturation of patrols,” department spokesman John Elder said. “They’ll look at what’s been happening the last two weeks, and they will adjust their patrol focus.”
Police unveiled their plan Tuesday, after a series of shootings in recent weeks in areas where gun violence is less common.
The violence peaked last week when Maurice O. Brown, a 17-year-old Minneapolis boy, was fatally shot in the chest. His body was found outside in the 2200 block of 13th Avenue S., according to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office.
The Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods, which stretch from Interstate 94 to E. 43rd Street, between Hiawatha Avenue and I-35W, have had more than 40 gunshot-related calls for service in the past two weeks, according to reports of shots fired and new technology that can detect gunfire.
Statistics show that violence, shootings and other serious crimes in Minneapolis tend to surge around March and can remain elevated throughout the summer.
Authorities have attributed the most recent surge of incidents to a social media-fueled dispute between rival gangs. The feud, which has flared in recent months with a series of high-profile shootings, including one last fall outside the Moto Mart gas station at Hiawatha Avenue and E. 33rd Street, has drawn the attention of local and federal law enforcement authorities.
The extra patrols will comprise both uniformed and plainclothes officers, patrolling the neighborhoods on foot, bicycle and in both marked and unmarked squad cards in an effort to curb further violence and reassure fearful residents.
Elder said that the department was increasing patrols in the affected areas while coordinating with other agencies, including the Park Police, Metro Transit Police and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.
Police believe these latest shootings are targeted attacks.
“These are not random incidents,” Elder said Tuesday. “We look for the public to provide any information they may have on each of the cases in that area.”
Council Member Blong Yang, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee, said that authorities added patrols around this time last year following a surge of burglaries.
Rather than employ a blanket approach, Yang said precinct commanders can allocate resources as necessary.
“The different precincts have different needs, and the brass allows the different precincts to use resources to fit their needs,” Yang said.