North Minneapolis community leaders launch pilot program to help deescalate crime

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Community leaders announced the launch of a pilot program meant to make north Minneapolis neighborhoods safer.

The "Northside Residents Redevelopment Council" is training community members to help keep crime down through outreach and support.

"I am so proud to announce today the Communtiy Pilot safety program," said John Jamison, board chair of Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC).

The program is a combination of a neighborhood watch group and a few dozen community liaisons and activists who come together in hopes of making north Minneapolis a safer place.

"This is a vision that I full-heartedly support," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. "The more I hear about it, the more I learn, the more excited I get."

It’s called the "Community Safety Specialist" program, or CSS.

"If we do this right, it is supplemental to the work that our police officers are doing on a daily basis," Frey said.

The idea is to put everyday citizens who are trained to deescalate crime and promote peace in neighborhoods. They will be a resource to those who need it the most.

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"Together we’ve got this fully comprehensive effort that’s centered on aspects of deescalation, of community orientation, and again those deep-seated relationships that help us prevent violence in many cases before it even happens," Frey said.

The pilot model is broken up into 15 districts. Every district in the north Minneapolis area will have a district lead and also CSS officers that are being mentored right now to help bring down the crime rates.

"A lot of us know one murder leads to six. So if we can build around that first murder, talk to the family, talk to the people, look at creating peace options," said Gayle Smaller, NRRC safety committee chair.

Frey also said in the upcoming weeks he plans on submitting an official request for funding to the City Council. The program is estimated to cost at least $1 million.