'Dire and urgent times': State Patrol to boost presence in Minneapolis
State troopers will patrol city streets three nights a week in anticipation of more crime with warmer weather
By Paul Walsh
MINNEAPOLIS — Two major state agencies are teaming with Minneapolis police to intensify law enforcement in specific areas of the city as the approach of warmer weather raises concerns of increased crime during what one senior official called "dire and urgent times."
The arrangement announced Wednesday by city and state officials clears the way for state troopers to patrol Minneapolis streets three nights a week starting Thursday and for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to join Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) criminal investigations.
"Now is the time, before summer is underway, to bolster public safety resources in our city," Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement. "Our collective work aligning MPD, State Patrol and BCA personnel will help improve safety outcomes rightfully expected by residents and visitors in Minneapolis."
Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman said in a statement that her department, the BCA and State Patrol "share one mission: to reduce violence and increase safety, and we can achieve better results working together."
"These collaborative efforts will be key in addressing violence, holding accountable those who choose to harm others, and increasing peace in our city," she said.
The MPD welcomed the outside help as serious crime surges and officers continue to quit en masse in the two years since George Floyd's murder followed by the "defund" debate over whether to remake the department.
A recent count found the MPD had about 544 officers, some 300 fewer than before Floyd's killing. Many officers have left the force after filing claims of post-traumatic stress disorder, while some went to other departments in pursuit of more stability or higher pay.
Meanwhile, two of the city's most high-profile crime categories — homicides and carjackings — are trending higher compared with the first four months of 2021. Carjackings rose to 164 from 146 last year, and homicides was up to 32 from 26, according to a Star Tribune database.
At its current pace, the number of homicides threatens to eclipse last year's total of 97, which tied an annual record set in the city's "Murderapolis" year of 1995.
Many other serious crimes also are rising compared with the prior three-year average of the calendar's first four months: robberies and aggravated assault, both up one-fifth; reports of shots fired, up two-thirds; and gunfire victims, up nearly 70%.
The State Patrol has agreed to dedicate troopers from 4 p.m. to midnight Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and focus primarily in two areas:
The West Broadway Business Corridor from N. 4th Street west to N. Penn Avenue.The Lake Street Business Corridor from S. Hiawatha Avenue west to Hennepin Avenue.
More tightly focused areas of patrol "may be determined based on crime analysis and emergent crime," according to the city's announcement.
Troopers will not respond to 911 calls, the state Department of Public Safety said, but they will coordinate with police on any cases initiated by troopers on patrol in the city.
Thirteen BCA investigatory and law enforcement personnelhave already been assisting Minneapolis for about the past month. Areas of emphasis have included gun crimes, shootings and carjackings.
"In these dire and urgent times, we all need to work together to keep our communities safe," state Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said in a statement.
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) said Wednesday that BCA personnel are being temporarily diverted from other casework in order to shore up law enforcement in Minnesota's most populous city. The agency said it expects the arrangement to wrap up in September.
"Right now, Minneapolis is seeing a significant rise in violent crime, while at the same time its police department is experiencing an unprecedented shortage of officers and investigators," BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said in a statement. "The BCA is bringing state resources and expertise to help these communities to meet this urgent need."
The Police Department will pay the State Patrol up to $400,000 and the BCA as much as $300,000 for their services. The arrangements can be canceled at any time by either side, with 30 days' notice.
City Council members voted 9-3 in April to authorize the agreements. Voting yes were Elliott Payne, Michael Rainville, LaTrisha Vetaw, Jeremiah Ellison, Jamal Osman, Lisa Goodman, Andrea Jenkins, Emily Koski and Linea Palmisano voted yes. Robin Wonsley Worlobah, Jason Chavez and Aisha Chughtai voted no. Andrew Johnson was absent.
When the agreements came before City Council, Wonsley Worlobah said she worried about "using the BCA to fill a gap in MPD."
Wonsley Worlobah, whose Ward 2 stretches across the Mississippi River on the eastern side of the city and includes the Cedar Riverside, Longfellow and University of Minnesota neighborhoods, expressed concern about the department filling beat officer positions "at the cost of investigative staff and other roles."
The first-term council member added that the city should have pushed harder for labor contract language during the recent round of negotiations that would have given it greater flexibility on where to place officers.
Star Tribune staff writers Liz Navratil and Jeff Hargarten contributed to this report.
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