Minneapolis mayor, city leaders change course, announce 3rd option for 3rd Police Precinct
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, alongside city leaders, changed course on the city’s plans to rebuild the 3rd Police Precinct, introducing a third option for the future of the police station following the highly critical results of a community survey first released to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Monday morning.
Third Precinct officers have been temporarily stationed downtown — miles from the area they’re tasked to serve — since the station was burned during protests in the days following George Floyd’s murder in May 2020.
Back in April, the city, through the community survey, asked those living in the 3rd Precinct to choose between two options — either rebuild the station at its original location or build a more expensive, brand new station down the street.
The results of the survey confirm what neighbors told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS earlier this year. A significant number of people who took the survey wrote in comments that they don’t want a 3rd Precinct building at all. Others wrote they’re open to it, but that they first want to see results from police reform efforts and a healing process from the trauma that they say still lingers in the surrounding neighborhood.
Roughly 66% of respondents selected a site without then commenting “neither” or “no precinct.” Out of the roughly 3,600 responses, 44% said the city should put it back where it was because it’d be cheaper and would happen sooner than building an entirely new station. Another nearly 23% selected the option of building a brand new station at 2600 Minnehaha Avenue, which is about a half mile from the former precinct site.
Rachel Boeke, Executive Director of neighborhood group Longfellow Community Council said the results “clearly indicat[e] the community is not okay with the process that was delivered to them.”
The group, that was subcontracted by the city to help organize the spring engagement process previously said they’d reject either option the city decided on.
“Yes, we need to do a whole lot of work around reform and healing,” Mayor Frey told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in an exclusive interview Monday. “But one thing is for sure, we need to move forward here.”
Frey said he stands by his previous stance of the need for a 3rd Precinct station to be located in the community it serves, but his words shifted slightly to “in or now very near the 3rd Precinct” with the announcement of a third location option for the Minneapolis City Council to consider: Century Plaza, which is actually located in the 1st Precinct near the border of the 3rd Precinct boundary. The idea came from City Council President Andrea Jenkins, he said.
“It could be temporary, it could also be a longer-term fix depending on how it works,” Frey said.
“While we work with [the] community to try and hear and understand what are the real issues and concerns about the current site and about alternative sites and really try to come to some consensus,” Jenkins said.
Commissioner of the Minneapolis Office of Community Safety Cedric Alexander acknowledged there are definitely 3rd Precinct officers who don’t want to return to their burned-out building.
“We know that it has been a long time that they have been away from the station that was torched three years ago. But, in that as well to, I believe many of them have come to terms with the fact it is time to move forward.”
The formal announcement came in a press conference with city leaders Monday evening.
Plans are already approved to move 1st Precinct officers to the Century Plaza building, which would mean combining the two precincts into one building.
“For me, for LCC, for the community, having a different temporary location downtown [is] here nor there,” Boeke reacted to the news. “But what we need is that engagement process to determine what the role of safety looks like in the community.”
Frey said the plan is for this to be an interim solution that he hopes the council can agree to go ahead and get officers back in the vicinity of the 3rd Precinct while the public engagement process once again goes back to the drawing board.
“One, it gets officers into a building that is of top quality that they’re going to need to do their job properly. Two, it does give constituents the necessary service that they need. And then finally, it gives us some additional time, time to figure out what the next step of community safety looks like,” Frey concluded.