Mpls. Adds Summer Police Patrols, But Placement Causes Controversy

Updated: 07/23/2014 10:40 PM
Created: 07/23/2014 8:29 PM
By: Stephen Tellier

The Minneapolis Police Department is adding more patrols this summer in the city's hottest spots for crime. However, there's some controversy about exactly where each of those officers will be placed.

MPD is short on officers this summer, largely due to retirements. So on Wednesday, police chief Janeé Harteau and Mayor Betsy Hodges announced officers will work overtime shifts in North Minneapolis and parts of South Minneapolis.

Some folks are asking why all of those officers aren't going to the north side. Sources tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that was precisely the plan as recently as Monday.

Alex Dobe has lived at North 33rd Avenue and North Humboldt Avenue for nine years.

"You'll see drug deals happening up and down the street," Dobe said.

For him, the crime blends into the background.

"I've seen so much of it, it's just something that happens around here," Dobe said.

He said he wants more cops on the north side. On Wednesday, he got at least part of his wish.

"The goal for us is really to disrupt the criminal environment in these neighborhoods," Harteau said.

Extra overtime shifts mean four more officers and a supervisor in the fourth precinct - North Minneapolis - and four more officers in the third precinct - South Minneapolis. Those extra shifts will run through Labor Day.

But sources tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the original plan, agreed to by city council members and the police department on Monday, would have put 10 extra officers solely in North Minneapolis.

When 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked Hodges about the change of plans, she replied, "Well, the plan - when I sat down and had a conversation with Chief Harteau, I asked her, 'If you did have additional resources to handle some of these localized issues that we've been facing, what would you want?' And the answer came back, 'Four on the north side with a supervisor, four patrol officers on the south side.' That's what came back, and of course, as mayor, the police chief reports directly to me."

Minneapolis crime data shows violent crime has increased more in South Minneapolis so far this year: It's up 13 percent in the third precinct, compared to an increase of three percent in the fourth precinct. But there have been 53 percent more violent crime incidents in North Minneapolis compared to South Minneapolis since Memorial Day.

Dobe said his area needs all the officers it can get.

"We're always in the news for all the shootings and everything that's going on, so I think that it would be a good idea to have everything up here," Dobe said.

Minneapolis city council president Barb Johnson said the north side needs more than the five extra patrol officers it got on Wednesday.

The extra police overtime is estimated to cost between $250,000 and $300,000. Hodges said she believes most of that can be covered in the current budget. If not, contingency funds can cover the remainder.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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