Updated: 06/27/2014 9:17 PM
Created: 06/27/2014 8:21 PM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson
Police have a lot of tools to fight crime; from badges to weapons to the simple power of arrest. However, they're not the only ones working to keep our streets safe. A group of regular citizens are taking a special approach to cutting youth crime in downtown Minneapolis.
Terrall Lewis is a member of the Downtown Youth Engagement Team. Their goal is to prevent youth violence and mischief in the city's downtown area. Lewis says it starts with building bonds with kids.
"The value of relationships and the development of relationships with young people versus purely enforcement," he said.
The team is downtown four nights a week from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Six members are broken up into three, two man teams. Their circuit goes from beyond Washington Avenue, up Nicollet Mall and around the Target Center. Lewis says his time is spent talking to kids on the streets.
"Anywhere between probably 250 and probably 300 to 400," he said.
The Minneapolis Police Department says they saw a 42 percent reduction in juvenile crime in the downtown area and an eight percent decrease in overall violent crime last year.
Inspector Medaria Arradondo says the group contributed to the decrease. "Not only does it help build those positive relationships, it also gives them a focus, keeps them on track," Arradondo said.
Lewis says its tough work breaking down barriers.
"Often times the people that are down here acting are really acting out are really acting out for a cry for help," Lewis said.
Overall, downtown Minneapolis seems to be safer. The Minneapolis Police Department says in 2013 downtown violent crime was down seven percent, robberies three percent and aggravated assaults were down three percent.