Reporting Liz Collin
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Nearly half of the murders in Minneapolis have happened on the north side, and more illegal guns are seized from the streets of north Minneapolis than in any other part of the city.
Recently, WCCO-TV got an up close look at what officers are really up against.
The precinct that includes north Minneapolis makes up just 20 percent of the city, but sees most of its violent crime. A Friday night in the 4th Precinct puts city police on the front lines of the most crime calls the city will see.
In one night, there are more reports of gunfire here than some parts of Minneapolis will record in a month.
An officer for 25 years, Lt. Mike Friestleben has spent most of them on the north side.
“The officers hit the street at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and it’s nonstop until 2 in the morning,” Friestleben said.
On the midwatch, he’s worked some of the worst of this year’s violence.
When a two-month-old boy was shot at the beginning of the month, an officer on the job for just two weeks was first on scene, applying pressure to stop the bleeding.
“All the officers feel that one,” Friestleben said. ”That’s not a routine call when a baby’s hit.”
Days later the child’s teenage uncle turned himself in, saying he fired the gun on accident.
“It is frustrating [when anyone gets shot] but especially a little kid,” Friestleben said. “We want to be able to close that book.”
Friestleben admits officers are often trying to fight some kind of street justice that has held too many families back for too long.
“We might in my lifetime be on generation three or four,” he said.
It’s one reason why north side beats were strengthened this summer. Police were taken off more specialized assignments and put on patrol.
Still, violent crime in north Minneapolis is up 16 percent over last year.
We were there when police arrived to check out two men that were robbed, then bit by the guy with the gun.
“This is not right for me,” one victim said. ”I’m out of here.”
Police arrived on the scene within a minute. After being checked out, paramedics decided the two should go to the hospital.
While wrapping up one scene, officers noticed a young man fitting the description from a different robbery. Police learned he’s a cousin of the baby who had been shot just a few blocks away.
“Unfortunately, between all that, there’s the most violence in the cities in this precinct, but there’s plenty of good here,” Friestleben said.
As part of the new police chief’s plan, each patrol car must stop at two businesses a day and each officer must attend 80 community events each year.
“We truly need the people in the community to help us solve these problems,” Friestleben said.
By 2 a.m. it’s bar close and extra squads head to West Broadway to help crowds get moving and head home.
A night on the north side, Friestleben will do again the next day, making a difference while wishing for peace.
“I don’t know if you can envision it, but you hope for it,” he said.