Northeast Mpls. Crime-Fighting Resident Angers Criminals, Impresses Police
Fed up with crime, a northeast Minneapolis resident has set out on a one-woman crusade for justice.
Her efforts have both angered criminals and impressed police.
We'll call her "Melody." She's asked to remain unidentified because she has serious concerns for her safety if she were to do reveal herself. She says, "I'm already being stalked, harassed and threatened by many different groups and individuals as well as by criminals and their families."
Melody is the sole creator and administrator for NE Minneapolis Crime Watch (NEMCW): http://on.fb.me/eucYSm.
In addition to residents who post reports of crimes and suspicious people/activity, Melody uses police scanner reports and reports from her reliable neighborhood contacts to post virtually real time information about possible crimes in progress and suspect descriptions when available.
Her objective is to create awareness and get more eyes and ears looking out their windows or around their neighborhood to track activity that she posts, and/or observe suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. Melody encourages followers to report any observations relevant to her posts to 911, and to also always call 911 or 311 with their other public safety and neighborhood livability concerns.
"I started NEMCW two years ago, August 2010," Melody explains, "when I found out through a neighbor that another resident's garage had been broken into about a week prior. I was fed up with not getting alerts from the Minneapolis Police Department about crimes occurring in my neighborhood and felt that there had to be a better way to share information and find out about crimes faster. I support the MPD, but I feel that they keep a stranglehold on valuable information that residents could and should be able to access and use to keep themselves, their loved ones and their property safe."
She continues, "The page does more than just report news about crimes that happened, we actually post about the people doing the crimes. We track their cases, post pictures and their previous criminal histories. I've been doing crime watch activities for nearly 10 years and I'm pretty well-versed in searching public records for information, plus I've built a vast network of contacts in every corner of Northeast. I've actually had the 2nd Precinct contact me on several occasions to request that I tap my network for information for them."
It's been so popular that at least four other concerned residents were directly inspired to launch similar pages:
MN Predatory Offender Wall of Shame: http://www.facebook.com/pages/MN-Predatory-Sex-Offender-Wall-of-Shame/287629097976113
North Minneapolis Crime Watch & Information: http://www.facebook.com/NMPLScrimewatch
Anoka County Crime Watch & Information, http://www.facebook.com/AnokaCountyCrimeWatchAndInformation?ref=ts
Columbia Heights Watch & Info: http://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaHeightsCrimeWatch
And Melody has just recently launched 3 affiliated pages:
South Minneapolis Crime Watch 3rd Precinct: http://on.fb.me/xWzsRT
South Minneapolis Crime Watch 5th Precinct: http://on.fb.me/GWP8MY
Downtown Minneapolis Crime Watch 1st Precinct: http://on.fb.me/IJOddY
Melody says, "We've received overwhelming feedback from followers about how much they love receiving the information on our pages. Much of the information we post can never be found from official sources, and if it can, it's usually delayed by days or weeks and often doesn't contain many of the details that we post.
"Of course we have no way to track the true effectiveness of our efforts on crime statistically, but it's a sure bet that we've increased awareness in Northeast Minneapolis/2nd Precinct and that many crimes have probably been prevented as a result of the heightened awareness we've created."
Sgt. Stephen McCarty, Mpls Police Public Information Officer, says, "My initial response is that I think these groups help bring about public awareness and as mentioned, they alert other citizens of potential problems. As a result, more people are watching and we have more witnesses and people reporting various incidents. As we (the police) have said we need the public's help a lot of times to help solve our cases."
Recent news from the site, according to Melody, "We just had two people in the last two day get their stolen bikes back as a direct result of their posts on our page."
Another resident, Mary Madeco-Smith, said, "I have a long distance perspective as opposed to near by. I use the site to watch over my elderly father since I live two hours away. And to keep up on my old neighborhood and crime."
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at email@example.com