Serious crime in the Downtown SafeZone decreased 19 percent between 2005 and 2006, according to Minneapolis Police Department data. That drop includes a 14 percent decline in felony assault (107 incidents in 2006), a 20 percent decrease in burglary (32 incidents in 2006), and a 14 percent decrease in robbery (101 incidents in 2006).
The Downtown SafeZone Collaborative concentrates on an area between 2nd Avenue North, Marquette Avenue, Washington Avenue and 12th Street. The SafeZone was established in 2003 with the installation of new surveillance cameras, and a boost in patrols came in the summer of 2005.
The 1st Precinct’s concentration on the “hassle factor” in recent months appears to have increased arrests of livability offenses, such as incidents involving narcotics, public urination, loitering, disorderly conduct and liquor distribution to minors.
Between May 1 and Nov. 15, narcotics arrests in 2006 jumped 142 percent to 368 incidents over the same time period in 2005. Arrests for public alcohol consumption over the same time period increased 76 percent to 278 incidents, and loitering arrests increased 31 percent to 130 incidents. Arrests did not increase for all livability crime, however. Aggressive solicitation arrests dropped 13 percent to a total of 28 incidents, and arrests for littering dropped 43 percent, to 12 incidents.
“The increase in misdemeanor arrests can’t be interpreted as an increase in incidents,” said Luther Krueger, a civilian crime prevention specialist for the 1st Precinct. “Unless someone watches every corner and property for public urination, disorderly conduct, consuming in public, etc., and actually counts the number of times they happen, there’s no way to know. So, the increase in arrests is exactly that, an increase in enforcement. Our hope is that it will lead to an actual decrease in the incidents, and that it will impact more serious crimes — for example, tag a consumer in public before he gets drunk enough to lose inhibitions and start breaking into cars or assaulting people.”
Krueger said livability crime is also up because of the concerted effort to encourage businesses to “tend to their front yards” by stepping outside, filling out citizen’s arrest forms and submitting community impact statements.
The Downtown SafeZone Collaborative was formed after the business leaders called for a coordinated plan to fight crime Downtown in December 2004. Besides Minneapolis Police, the area is patrolled by Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies, the State Patrol and Metro Transit Police.