Metro Transit, Minneapolis police partnership at East Lake Street hotspot to continue ‘indefinitely’

Metro Transit, Minneapolis police partnership at East Lake Street hotspot to continue ‘indefinitely’

Metro Transit, Minneapolis police partnership at East Lake Street hotspot to continue 'indefinitely'

Residents of Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood will continue to see Metro Transit police officers more frequently for the foreseeable future, Officer David Tan said on Tuesday.

The Metro Transit Police Department started stepping up patrols over the weekend to aid the Minneapolis Police Department in patrolling a hotspot for crime that saw back-to-back shootings over the weekend.

Shots rang out Friday and Saturday on the same block near the Midtown Light Rail Train Station and bus stop at East Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue. A teenager was killed and three others were hurt between the two nights.

“Well, this is concerning,” said Tan — who said he grew up, in part, in south Minneapolis — as he pointed to boarded-up windows on a business behind the bus stop that were hit by bullets over the holiday weekend.

“Nobody should have to live in fear just waiting for the bus or riding the train,” he said, but he “think[s] people are.”

In his five years with Metro Transit Police, Tan has just about seen it all, but officers’ biggest battle is “open drug use,” he said.

Although he couldn’t speak to the weekend shootings, which are still under investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department, Tan suspects illicit drug sales are driving much of the crime on the block. He says those sales affect Metro Transit ridership.

Drug/narcotics offenses jurisdiction-wide were up 55% in 2023 compared to 2022, according to data provided by Metro Transit Police.

Overall, people reported 33% more crimes this year than in 2022, but police say the spike was driven largely by proactive enforcement.

There was a 20% drop in the most serious crimes as well, particularly assaults, according to the data set.

Despite the weekend, Tan said anecdotally, it’s been a better year for the East Lake Street block in question as well.

That’s to be attributed, in part, to the removal of the glass bus shelter, he thought.

“We took that out, just to see if it would get rid of the problems that we’ve been having,” Tan said. “And that did help for the most part, but obviously, this is still territory for a lot of people to sell.”

Added security on the light rail trains and platforms also made some of the difference in catching and deterring crime, he said.

Metro Transit Community Safety Officers also began enforcing fare payments this month. The Community Safety Officers do not fall under the Metro Transit Police Department, but Tan did remark that it’s still too early to tell what impact their presence will make.

“What it’s going to take is police officers going the extra mile to work with the community and be out here, and have a voice for the victims, have a voice for the people that are just tired of seeing the same old stuff,” he said in conclusion.