(The Center Square) – After another weekend of violence, Mayor Jacob Frey pushed for a safety plan to stop widespread violence, which has been rampant for more than a year.
"This must mark a turning point," Frey said. "The ultimate goal is to make all Minneapolis neighborhoods safer."
Frey released a 14-page model for community safety and accountability days after six people were shot, including a 9-year old girl shot in the head while playing with friends on a trampoline at 8:30 p.m.
Immediate actions include:
- Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is in conversations to bring in additional Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators to increase the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) investigative capacity, particularly for gun crimes.
- The mayor will prioritize funding for MPD officer overtime so the department may increase its patrol presence.
- The mayor and chief will work to develop a specialized, multi-jurisdictional violent crime task force that will focus on “hot spots” and times when violent crime is more frequent, which will result in increased officer and civilian presence.
Sharrie Jennings, the grandmother of a 10-year-old boy shot last month, demanded the violence stop.
“They were playing in a yard; he had just gotten out of school. That little girl was minding her business,” she said of the children caught in the crossfire.
“Y’all keep giving these people a slap on the wrist, and they shoot our kids now. When is enough enough? When are y’all going to stand up and do something?” she pleaded at the event.
Minneapolis police say 19 children have been injured by gunfire in 2021, accounting for 11% of all victims.
Frey said he's working with Arradondo and the city attorney’s office to end traffic stops for low-level offenses such as small objects hanging from rearview mirrors and inoperable license plate lights.
Frey also wants to reassign expired tabs violations as a primary reason for a stop for a secondary reason.
Minneapolis received $271 million in federal American Rescue Plan money, but the city council must approve most spending. In 2020, Minneapolis city council members pushed for defunding the police. It’s unclear what compromise stands between the city council and Frey, who has opposed defunding the police.
Frey said he would prioritize increasing community-based models, including the Minneapol-Us Violence Interrupter program, the Community Safety Specialist Apprenticeship pilot launched by the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, among others.
Most residents and leaders pleaded to end the violence.
"Gun violence in our city is our biggest nemesis right now," Arradondo said, whose department's staffing is down by a third. He asked Hennepin County judges to be tough on first- and second-time offenders.
"When you are releasing violent individuals back to our community, there is a price we pay," he said.
For Minneapolis, 2020 was a record violent year encompassing 82 homicides, the third-worst year in city history. The Star Tribune reported 97 homicides were recorded in 1995, the worst year on record, followed by 83 in 1996. In 2019, there were 48 homicides.
Two months after the death of George Floyd, 200 police officers out of the roughly 850 MPD officers filed paperwork to leave their jobs with the department. Now, an attorney says the city settlement cost for first responders claiming physical or mental harm could top $35 million.
Previously, Minneapolis’s average annual police separation was between 40 officers to 45 officers annually.
Sondra Samuels, president and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, said: "We are here because we can't take it anymore,” the Star Tribune reported.
Samuels urged both funding and transforming the department. Samuels is part of a lawsuit alleging Minneapolis is violating city charter requirements to have a minimum police force of 0.0017 employees per resident or roughly 730 officers for the 425,000-person city.