In response to proposed state budget cuts, the Minneapolis Police Department sliced the Community Crime Prevention/SAFE program in half. As a result, Downtown SAFE teams will be reduced from two to one.
Downtown\'s remaining Crime Prevention Specialist, Luther Krueger, said he doesn\'t think the SAFE cutback will decrease effectiveness, depending on the community\'s willingness to work with police. \"If they\'ve already worked with us, they are not going to notice a difference, but there\'s a need for more individual effort than before,\" he said.
John Baumann, CCP/SAFE Operations Manager, said the second Downtown SAFE unit, which served the east side of the area, is being reassigned to Northeast Minneapolis June 1 because of a greater need.
He said the entire city itself would go from having 25 teams to 14.
SAFE teams serve in pairs of sworn officers and civilian crime prevention specialists and are the primary contact for Downtown residents and businesses to the police department in responding to crime trends, assisting in block club training, providing some business and home security checks and workshops and focusing on problem properties.
Because of the downsizing, Baumann said the focus on the little things, such as meeting attendance and the SAFE newsletter, might falter. It will probably take more time to respond to crime-prevention requests. \"Everyone\'s getting a district that\'s bigger. You\'re not going to be as fast to respond and make all the meetings,\" he said.
Krueger said it would just be a matter of prioritizing and concentrating their efforts where they are most needed. He said some SAFE duties could be supplemented by community members; for example, block clubs may have to do more work on Downtown crime-prevention programs.
Baumann said the remaining SAFE personnel also face leadership changes. He said each city precinct decided how to restructure their SAFE teams. In Downtown\'s 1st Precinct, the SAFE team now reports to Lt. Kevin Stoll instead of Lt. Tony Diaz.
With more budget cuts due in 2004, many civilian crime-prevention specialists fear the city will axe SAFE completely. Krueger, who has worked with city leadership on a downsized crime-prevention strategy, termed those predictions speculative. He said community support for saving SAFE this year was obvious by calls to the City Councilmembers, making them fully aware of the program\'s importance.