Police admit impotence in face of rising skateboarding complaints

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July 30, 2002 // UPDATED 1:28 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Kevin Featherly
Kevin Featherly

There has been a slight rise in Downtown complaints about skateboarders causing cracks and chips on granite benches and other surfaces, though exact numbers are not available.

"In the last two years I can't remember it coming up at all," said Minneapolis Police Crime Prevention Specialist Luther Krueger. "There have been more complaints this year."

Krueger said at one location, the 1200 on the Mall Association on the Nicollet Mall, trick-performing skateboarders have done "tens of thousands of dollars" of damage.

That said, Krueger acknowledges that police are not in a good position to stop it.

"On any given night," he said, "there's probably more skateboarders [Downtown] than there are cops."

While officers have met with Downtown property owners about ways to combat the problem, skateboarding is not a so-called "Part One" crime, meaning it is not a serious infraction, even considering the damage, Krueger said. Further, it's difficult to justify picking up skateboarders because what they do isn't really a gateway offense.

"Drinking in public you can tie to Part One crimes, so you can justify arresting people; they're likely to go out and break into someone's car to get 50 cents for their next drink," Krueger said.

"You can't tie [skateboarding] to narcotics, because most of these kids are health nuts," Krueger said. "They're not robbing people, they're not breaking into cars. It doesn't excuse their behavior, but as far as really answering the public safety needs, we really do have to prioritize this stuff."

Krueger encourages property managers to dial 911, but they should expect to wait a while before officers arrive.

Krueger instead recommends property owners invest a couple of hundred dollars in "skate-stopper" devices. These metal straps are bolted to the surface of benches so skateboarders can't use the surface for tricks.

Cindy Hoeschen, a principal with Base Real Estate Services, the managers of Marquette Plaza, 250 Marquette Ave. S., has installed skatestoppers on a number of benches in the building's new park. Nonetheless, skateboarders continue to do damage, she said.

Still, she said she sympathizes with the police. The ultimate responsibility lies with the skateboarders, she said.

"I'm sure [police] are doing the best they can as their time allows," Hoeschen said. "So we're not really in a position to complain. We're glad they're out there to back us up at all."