‘Smart option’: Minneapolis Police Chief weighs in on 3rd Precinct’s future

City leaders weigh in on new location for the 3rd precinct

City leaders weigh in on new location for the 3rd precinct

The proposal to temporarily move police officers serving Minneapolis’s 3rd Precinct into the Century Plaza building alongside 1st Precinct officers is a “smart option,” according to Police Chief Brian O’Hara, and it could happen by the end of 2024.

“At least providing the officers with a temporary location that would be new, that is close to access to the interstate — to access, you know, even the southern end of the precinct — is a very positive development,” Chief O’Hara said. “And it’s much better than what had previously been on the table.”

O’Hara, on Tuesday, weighed in for the first time on last week’s announcement by city leaders who proposed the shared space for both precincts within the boundary of the 1st Precinct. Minneapolis City Council is expected to vote on the plan in September.

The former 3rd Precinct building was burned during protests days after George Floyd was murdered, and it’s been sitting vacant since. Meanwhile, 3rd Precinct officers have been stationed in what city staff have referred to as a ‘re-purposed office space’ since 2021.

Similar to the reaction from a significant number of neighbors of the former 3rd precinct site, O’Hara said officers aren’t in favor of the building being rebuilt where it once was either.

“I think the officers do have, you know, very open wounds, just like our residents,” he said. “Some of them say they avoid the building completely, they try not to drive in that area at all. And some of them say they never want to go back there at all. So, it’s a naïve assumption to think that the cops just wanted to go back.”

Minneapolis City Council Members, late last week, voted to take the possibility of police returning to the former station off the table altogether. In another committee vote on Tuesday, council members also solidified support for looking at non-law enforcement uses instead for the other precinct site option down the street at 2600 Minnehaha Ave.

That, for now, just leaves Council President Andrea Jenkins’s idea to combine the 1st and 3rd Precincts at the Century Plaza.

“Hopefully, we can move forward on this,” Jenkins said on Tuesday.

Although you can’t see much progress from the outside, Jenkins said construction on the 1st Precinct portion is in the works inside of the building.

“So, we anticipate having the 1st Precinct in place by mid-2024, and then the 3rd Precinct by the end of the year,” she added.

Mayor Jacob Frey last Monday stressed that co-locating the precincts “could be temporary, it could also be a longer-term fix.”

Asked if she considers the proposed plan a possible permanent solution, Jenkins said, “I think all options are on the table is what I would have to say.”

To the same question, O’Hara said, “Again, I think that’s a decision for the governing body to make.”

“But I think by and large, what’s most important to the majority of the cops who work the 3rd Precinct is to eventually get into a building in the neighborhood, in the 3rd Precinct,” he added.

O’Hara acknowledged a continued ‘divide’ between 3rd Precinct officers and the community they patrol, adding, “But the common denominator, the potential bridge that we could use to build on, is the shared trauma.”

The community is invited to partake in conversations about MPD policies throughout August. The upcoming dates can be found here.