Extra law enforcement in Dinkytown this weekend after recent crime

Extra law enforcement in Dinkytown this weekend after recent crime

Extra law enforcement in Dinkytown this weekend after recent crime

Extra officers will be on patrol in Dinkytown starting Friday night, following several weekends of ‘disturbances’ near the University of Minnesota.

“As soon as the sun goes down, you should not be by yourself,” said student Christian Lerch. “There have been muggings, I’ve heard people getting pulled out of cars, just kind of losing everything in their pockets and getting hurt in the process.”

Minneapolis Police Department confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they received reports of up to 100 teenagers gathering in Dinkytown last weekend.

An MPD spokesperson said they responded to a large fight along the 400 block of 13th Avenue Southeast Friday night, along with an armed robbery.

“There’s just random groups of 50 to 100 people showing up doing whatever they want. We see rocks being thrown at cars and windows being broken,” said David Nunn, an incoming junior who lives in Dinkytown. “I’ve seen them set off fireworks and the instigation they do. If you’re walking along, you’re going to be outnumbered and that’s something everybody is very cautious of.”

The University of Minnesota announced a new initiative starting this weekend called ‘Dinkytown Safe Streets.’

It will include overtime shifts for University Police and MPD officers, parking and traffic enforcement Friday and Saturday nights starting at 9 p.m. and violence interrupters working in the area.

Parents of University students told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it is a good start but more needs to be done.

“We have the revolving door of juvenile criminals. This is the root cause. We need to fix this or nobody should expect it to get any better,” said Brian Peck, president of the Campus Safety Coalition, a non-profit that formed last summer in response to rising crime. “It’s very unnerving because we’ve been seeing this now for the past couple of years and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”

The group, which now includes thousands of parents and students, escalated their concerns to the governor’s office this week, looking for long-term solutions.

Peck said he would like to see Hennepin County leaders consider rehabilitation programs for juvenile offenders.

“This is a huge deal. We’ve got a lot of people that call our nonprofit asking for help because they’ve been victimized at gunpoint or they will not come back to school,” Peck said. “I would like the people that actually can influence this to step up and take the leadership role they’ve been elected to do and put an end to this.”

The Dinkytown Safe Streets plan will be in place over the next few weekends. It is unclear what will happen after that for the rest of the summer.

Students hope to see a change in Dinkytown moving forward.

“If we keep trying to put a band-aid on a huge open wound, it’s not going to solve anything, so we have to work with community leaders to see what’s going to be the most effective long-term strategy,” Nunn said.

Hennepin County provided this statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in response to the community concerns:

“Hennepin County understands the public’s concern for recent trends in juvenile crime, and we share those concerns for public safety. While we have worked hard to create a robust system of wraparound services and interventions, we are cognizant of the difficult task faced by the law enforcement agencies responding to criminal activity. There is still work to be done.  

The juvenile justice system in Hennepin County is a complex system that includes the 4th Judicial District, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCCR), and the nearly 40 law enforcement agencies throughout the county.

The success of the system — and the youth who go through it — also relies on community service providers that meet the needs of youth in developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive ways. Hennepin County continues to expand its community-based array of services for youth and their families. These collaborations and services aim to provide a behavioral health focus that attends to the well-being of youth and families, using the least restrictive alternatives. The goal is to lower the risk of recidivism, help young people succeed, and promote public safety.

There is a noted lack of system capacity in the State of Minnesota to provide therapeutic and rehabilitative services to youth. The finite number of available options within Hennepin County has led to resource challenges. The law requires that services be tailored to the needs of youth and families, rather than a “one size fits all” approach. Other counties and their respective corrections and human services agencies are also struggling to access adequate resources to meet the individualized needs of youth and their families.

Hennepin County supports a regional approach to expand capacity across the continuum. This approach allows for greater flexibility in placing youth in appropriate settings — including group homes and secured or non-secured treatment facilities.

Hennepin County’s efforts related to juvenile justice this legislative session centered on the creation of the Working Group on Youth Interventions. (Chapter 62, Section 119.) A collaborative and regional system is crucial to finding effective and lasting solutions.

The working group will be co-chaired by a representative from Hennepin County and a representative from the Minnesota Department of Corrections. The working group’s membership will include representatives from all seven counties in the metro area, four counties in greater Minnesota, representatives from the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association and the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, NAMI Minnesota, community members with lived experience in the youth justice system, and others. Members will be appointed by Sept. 1.

The working group will assess the current system(s) and resources for addressing the therapeutic and rehabilitative needs of youth (especially those adjudicated as Child in need of Protection Services (CHIPS) or delinquent); identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps; and make recommendations for improvement.

The working group’s charge is to develop recommendations on the design of a regional system of care for youth interventions, sustainable financing models, and alternatives to criminal penalties. There will be a focus on evaluating coordinated approaches to youth with high behavioral health needs. The working group’s goals are:

            – To reduce and eliminate touchpoints within the justice system

            – Identify community-based services to address youth needs

            – Identify gaps in services

The working group will submit a written report to the Legislature when it reconvenes in February. That report will summarize the working group’s assessment of current approaches to serving youth and “describe the role the state of Minnesota should play in ensuring best practice resources are available to all children across the state.

Governor Walz approved a one-time appropriation to the Legislative Coordinating Commission of $500,000 to support the working group. While Hennepin County did not receive direct payment from the Legislature this session, we anticipate the recommendations from this working group will benefit our youth, our families, and our communities.”