Saturday, April 11, 2009

Uptown Crime: All About Your Neighborhood Policing Plan

The Minneapolis Police Department compiles annual neighborhood policing plans for all of the city’s neighborhoods; these community-based plans allow the department and neighborhood to zero in on the specific issues faced by each individual neighborhood. These plans lay out specific goals, and evaluate the successes and failures of the previous year’s plans. 2009 plans are not yet available for Uptown’s neighborhoods, but the 2008 plans are compelling reading. Once the 2009 report is out I’ll spend a little more time investigating how things went in 2008. You can read the details for yourself on the city’s website, but to save you some reading I've listed the main goals/targets for each Uptown neighborhood. How do you think the neighborhoods stacked up in the end?

LHENA (the Wedge)

  • Robbery suppression: Among other items, two new beat cops attempted to decrease the number of robberies in the neighborhood.
  • Reducing residential burglaries: According to the report, there were 165 burglaries in the Wedge in 2007. The majority (approximately two-thirds!) did not require force, suggesting a lot of local residents leave their garages and homes unlocked. The department dedicated some of their time and resources in educating residents in the basics of common sense.
  • Reducing theft from motor vehicles: As with burglaries, much of the prevention tactics focused on education. In case you missed the police department’s messages, I’ll repeat it here: please do not leave your purse, laptop, wallet, or valuables in your car.
    Other highlights: The MPD was also planning on working to expand the block club program, and to expand the concept of e-block clubs and the use of technology as an outreach tool. There was also discussion of the creation of a citizen block patrol.

CARAG

  • Burglary prevention: The Department had the ambitious goal of eliminating all non-forced-entry burglaries. Education was an important element in this plan, as was an increase of nighttime patrols.
  • Reducing drug trafficking: The 2008 goal was to reduce local drug sales by five percent.
  • Increased curfew and truancy enforcement: Exactly what it sounds like: get kids off the streets and in bed or at school.
  • Other highlights: Community involvement and engagement continues to be the common thread between all of these plans. In CARAG that means involvement with neighborhood meetings, encouraging block clubs, the continuation of a citizen “stroll patrol,” a group formed following the 2006 murder of Michael Zebuhr.

EAST ISLES
Interestingly, although perhaps understandably, despite the very low rate of violent crime in East Isles (nearly all crime is property-related), the report notes that residents are focused on the scarier stuff.

  • Reducing residential burglaries: As with other local neighborhoods, two-thirds of residential burglaries did not involve forced entry. Lock your doors, people!
  • Reducing theft from cars: Also like other area neighborhoods, East Isles gets a lot of people, residents and otherwise, who leave their valuables in their car.
  • Other highlights: Continued block club expansion, the use of technology for communication with the community, and the creation of a citizen block patrol were all discussed.

ECCO

  • Reducing theft from vehicles and car theft: The police intended to address the car theft (both from and of) through increased patrols and education.
  • Reducing burglaries: While 2007 crime mostly went down, burglaries actually went up. The 2008 plan attempted to address this problem through increased and targeted patrols as well as increased enforcement of curfew and truancy laws.
  • Other highlights: The Police Department expected to continue to strengthen and expand community relations, as well as to increasingly use technology to enhance communication.

Overall, Uptown is a pretty safe place. There is crime, of course, and residents and visitors alike need to take the standard basic precautions, but overall Uptown seems to be in pretty good shape. I might complain at times about the neighborhood organizations, but they have taken on a strong role in working hand-in-hand with the police to help keep the area’s streets safe and crime at bay. Given that crime – or even the perception of crime – can really impact a neighborhood in negative way (let alone the people it directly touches), it’s essential that community members and the police continue to come together to address crime of all types, from the broken car window to the more serious and scary crimes like robbery or assault.

And please, please, remember to lock your garage, your house, and your car.

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