Monday, July 12, 2010

A Call For Discussion and Action - How Do We Stop the Violence Now? Part 2

Chief Dolan and Inspector Martin at community meeting, shared photo from JNS

In the Part 1 I shared my "call for action" email that I sent to a whole slew of elected officials as well as some appointed officials, such as Police Chief Tim Dolan.  Chief Dolan OFTEN replies to me immediately when I write. I remember one time late at night I had sent something off, and within a minute or so, I had a reply from the Chief. 

Here Below is his immediate reply that I received (I am sharing because I said I would share far and wide with my community any responses I received, or not received as it may be):

July 1, 2010

Ms. Goodmundson, thank you for the email. I know it does not help much when you have these incidents and headlines, but violent crime in North Minneapolis is below where it was two years ago, which is below where it was in 2007, which is below where it was in 2006. The Fourth Precinct is the only police precinct in Minneapolis with an overall Part I decrease year-to-date in crime.

Inspector Martin and his officers are doing an outstanding job on the Northside. The calls for service are very high, yet they continue to produce well proactively. We have other resources such and the Gang Enforcement Team and a federal task force (Violent Offender Task Force) assisting on a regular basis. SWAT officers also assist the Northside on a regular basis.

Todd Jones, our US Attorney, is going to work with us to increase federal prosecutions of those using guns. We also have an excellent working relationship with County Attorney Mike Freeman – and they are looking very closely at our gun cases. Inspector Martin’s officers always lead the city in gun seizures, and they added fourteen recovered guns last week.

I very much need residents to make sure they call the police when they see disturbances, loud parties, or suspicious activity. The most recent shooting was again the result of a large party that had not been reported to the police. We need those calls, and callers can ask to remain anonymous.

Ms. Goodmundson, you copied your email to quite a large list. I will be the first to say that I will always take any additional resources offered, but I do need to say that many of the people listed are already helping some way. I know it is a lot to ask, but please keep working with us as you have for a long time. It will take all of us working together to get through what seems like a very busy summer.

Timothy J. Dolan
Chief, Minneapolis Police
Visit us at:


There was no public response sent back to the Chief from me, however, there were a couple of off-the-record ideas and suggestions given from this everyday (read not law enforcement) citizen.

I'll share with NoMi-land anything significant that may develop out of some behind the scenes discussions with various involved persons.

Here is another response, this one from 4th Precinct commander Inspector Mike Martin, received at 8:50pm that same night, Thursday, July 1 (I mention that to show this hardworking public service employee is still working at that hour of day):

Ms. Goodmundson,

Thanks for taking the time to relay your concerns to all of us. I know I speak for everyone copied when I say that our goal is to make the Northside a safe place for everyone to live and visit. I apologize for the late reply, but I am working late tonight because we are executing a series of search warrants with our Gang Enforcement Team, Community Response Team, S.W.A.T. Team and precinct officers. These warrants are follow-up warrants related to arrests we made during a Gang Suppression Detail with all of those listed above and Hennepin County Probation.

In the last several days we have conducted a number of joint operations with Probation, the Violent Offender Task Force, the Gang Enforcement Team, Directed Patrol officers, and our S.W.A.T. officers. These efforts have now led to the recovery of 16 guns taken off the street from gang members and other violent individuals.

In addition, we have been dealing with a significant increase in our calls for service as the weather has become warmer. I have been monitoring our call load all night and there has never been a time when there are not calls pending. However, our proactive traffic stops and stops of suspicious people and vehicles have been increasing in recent weeks. These efforts continue to drive down our violent crime rates and we are focusing them on the most violent offenders and most problematic locations.

The shootings on Monday night were an anomaly for the Northside. We have not had a night like that in the 3 years I have been here. I spoke with the reporter from the Star Tribune and tried to explain that, but unfortunately that is not how it was portrayed in the paper. Here is the reality;

The first shooting was a juvenile shot with an airsoft/simunitions type gun after an argument with another juvenile.

The next 2 victims allegedly shot each other during a drug deal gone bad and both were uncooperative. Subsequent work by investigators has led to the recovery of 3 guns from individuals involved.

The next victim was a toddler in her own front yard who was hit by a stray pellet from kids playing with a pellet gun (most likely unintentional).

Then a male was shot in the leg while attending a loud party. He refused to give officers any information and had marijuana in his pocket that was found by medical personnel.

Finally, 3 juveniles were shot while in the street. One of them was a documented gang member who was arrested last week after assaulting a neighbor with a 2 by 4 and then fighting with responding officers.

None of these incidents appears to be related or indicative of an escalation of violence, with one exception. Kids and young adults appear to be carrying guns more frequently and seem to be able to get them at will. We have been working hard to get these guns off the street and hold people accountable who use them in crimes. We have taken 215 guns off the street on the Northside this year. While this is great work by the officers, it is completely unacceptable that people are carrying that many guns while committing crimes here.

Another major issue we are tackling is the lack of consequences our arrestees are receiving when they are arrested. Time and time again we arrest people who have dozens of prior arrests, many for violent crimes, and they have never been incarcerated for significant periods of time. The County Attorney ’s Office and City Attorney’s Office have pushed hard on our behalf, but they are often hamstrung by a judicial system that is not prepared or willing to deal with repeat offenders.

In addition, cuts to Local Government Aid and State and Federal Grants have reduced our ability to hire back officers on overtime to help in problematic areas. Often times, these are the extra efforts that really make a difference in proactively preventing crime. That being said, the Northside has received a disproportionately large percentage of those monies this year and most of it has been spent in the Jordan, Hawthorne, McKinley, and Willard Hay Neighborhoods.

Finally, we need the residents and property owners to continue supporting us and calling us when they see suspicious activity. Several of the shootings on Monday could have been prevented if residents would have called us to report the party, the kids in the street late at night, or the altercation that preceded a shooting. We also need residents to provide impact statements when we go to court on problem individuals or properties. That is being done through our monthly Court Watch meetings and restorative justice program.

I apologize for the long response, but as the Commander of the 4th Precinct I felt I needed to make sure I addressed your questions. The Sheriff’s Office, Metro Transit Police, Hennepin County Probation, and our Federal partners are helping us in every way they can. We interact with them daily and they help us tremendously. We also use the National Guard to help us with crime analysis, link analysis, and investigative support.

I appreciate your passion about crime on the Northside and I can assure you we are doing everything we can with the resources we have.

Inspector Mike Martin
Commander, 4th Precinct
Minneapolis Police Department
1925 Plymouth Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55411

I did not send a response to the Inspector, although I meant to, I must have gotten busy and distracted.

Stay tuned for more follow-ups.

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