Crime hot spots in Minneapolis will be saturated with law enforcement at specific times under an initiative detailed Wednesday ahead of the warm summer days and nights ahead.
The "Operation Safe Summer" briefing Wednesday in the Police Department training center, with many of the top legal brass acting for the most part as observers along with members of the media, was complete with charts, graphs and maps on a big screen touting reductions in crime. The contingent included Minneapolis police officers and Hennepin County sheriff's deputies, many of them in plain clothes.
The officers learned when they will saturate targeted areas of the city — in uniform and undercover — with the focus on crime hot spots on the North Side, downtown and along and near E. Lake Street.
The operation, subtitled the "Greater Minneapolis Violent Crime Initiative," began Monday and is being deployed on specific dates during specific times through the end of August — though they were not publicly detailed.
A presentation of Police Department crime data comparing the first six months of 2023 with the same period last year showed 33% fewer homicides and 37% fewer gunshot victims. At the same time, gun seizures are up 18%.
On the first day of the initiative, detectives with the Hennepin County Violent Offender Task Force and Minneapolis police officers chased a 12-year-old boy driving a suspected stolen Kia until the vehicle crashed into and destroyed a Metro Transit bus shelter at Olson Hwy. and N. Penn Avenue.
The driver and his five older teenage passengers were injured to varying degrees. All six were arrested, the Sheriff's Office said.
The Kia struck another SUV on Olson Hwy. and Penn Avenue, then slammed into the bus shelter and also hit a man waiting at the shelter around noon, authorities said Monday. The vehicle was believed to have been involved in multiple armed robberies and being driven erratically through the North Side.
On Wednesday, the child, now 13, was charged with four counts of felony criminal vehicular operation and one count each of receiving stolen property and fleeing police. Because of his age, his identity and other details were not made public.
Along with Mayor Jacob Frey, other agency heads in attendance included U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt, state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty and Alvin Winston, special agent in charge for the FBI's Minneapolis Field Office. They praised the efforts toward bringing down crime in the tumultuous years since the at-times violent and destructive unrest that followed George Floyd's murder by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020.
"We are focusing on the worst of the worst out there who are wreaking harm or causing havoc in the community," Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said of the joint-agency initiative. "You are out there this week and every day and taking these people off the street."