Minneapolis officials are seeking proposals for "violence interrupters" as the city tries to head off a seasonal spike in crime that typically comes with warming temperatures.
Officials last month issued a request for proposals for the MinneapolUS initiative, run out of the city's Health Department, which employs street workers to help defuse disagreements before they escalate into gunfire. The city is looking for outreach organizations that would operate out of six geographical areas that have historically struggled with crime.
The approach is modeled after Cure Violence, a Chicago-based program that argues that violence is contagious and spreads like a disease, which has been used with varying success in more than 25 cities across the U.S. and Canada.
Minneapolis' version debuted last fall amid concerns about violent crime, but health officials say the plan was always to launch the program in 2021.
As the city sets about reimagining public safety, MinneapolUS is part of a suite of new or proposed crime prevention programs that proponents say will address the underlying causes of violence.
Officials have come under fire by some residents, who argue the city should have been better prepared for the spike in crime that followed the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests against racial injustice. And with the crime-heavy summer months looming — as well as the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the potential unrest it could bring — city officials could face some of the same concerns.
Office of Violence Prevention Director Sasha Cotton previously told the Star Tribune that health officials will meet with representatives from national organizations Cities United and Cure Violence to fine-tune details of the larger rollout.
According to the proposal, six teams of eight outreach workers will fan across the city, working five hours a day, six days a week. They will be paid $25 an hour.
Two teams will be deployed in both south and north Minneapolis, while Downtown and the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood will each receive one team. The target zones are:
• The area around 38th Street and Chicago Avenue
• The Lake Street Corridor
• Areas north of W. Broadway
• Areas south of W. Broadway
Each zone will receive up to $275,000 in funding — as much as $2.5 million in all.
The deadline for submitting proposals is 5 p.m. March 11, with bid winners expected to be announced on April 1.
After a year that saw a dramatic spike in homicides and serious assaults, MPD statistics show that violent crime in the first two months of 2021 has fallen back to average levels. Still, the shootings have continued to climb, with more than twice as many people shot through March 1 when compared to the same time in 2020.
More information can be found at bit.ly/37XuwnS.