MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As people enjoyed Halloween festivities on Saturday night in downtown Minneapolis, city leaders were coming off of a week of talks about improving downtown safety.

The downtown Minneapolis Warehouse district is home to some of the city’s top sports arenas, theaters, and restaurants.

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Minneapolis residents said they have always enjoyed the neighborhood, but stay aware of anything suspicious.

“I’ve always had a great time here but you are at risk of something unfortunate happening anywhere you go in this country,” Minneapolis resident Corey Stoglin said.

“It is fun here, but it can be dangerous,” Minneapolis resident Jennifer Peerman said of her time in the warehouse district.

A late night shooting near the Target Center in September left six bystanders shot. The shooting took place in spite of a heavy police presence.

Area councilman Jacob Frey said the shooting, coupled with other recent concerning instances of violence inspired city leaders to take action.

A new task force to examine night life and downtown hospitality is exploring safety issues from the streets, to sidewalks, and inside popular venues

The group consists of many stakeholders such as city leaders, local law enforcement, transportation officials, and business owners.

“I’m concerned about everyone’s interests,” Frey said.

The group is especially concerned about safety around 2 a.m. when state requires bars to close.

Downtown Improvement District CEO Steve Cramer represents the interests of area businesses and says issues surrounding transportation are most critical.

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“On weekends several streets in the downtown are closed and people are being rushed out of downtown at a specific point in time,” Cramer said. “We want to focus on if that is the best way to handle things.”

While some in the community had suggested looking into closing the bars earlier, Cramer said that is a sensitive topic for bar and restaurant owners fearful of losing patrons.

But Cramer said no option is off the table at this point.

“I think the focus is on a lot of other things that can contribute to a better environment,” Cramer said.

“This is not just a problem we can throw more police officers at,” Frey said.

The warehouse district shooting from September happened as 18 officers were in the immediate area on foot and on horseback. Eventually, police arrested three people and recovered two guns from the incident.

“We need to acknowledge improvements need to be done and we need to take some action,” Frey said.

The city is consulting with a group, the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI), which has worked on similar safety plans for cities like Denver and Seattle, according to Cramer.

Cramer said RHI told him Minneapolis does have one of the most impressive relationships between area businesses and law enforcement when it comes to the sharing of surveillance footage and information.
Cramer said this partnership between Minneapolis police first precinct and downtown business owners helped catch three people in connection with the September downtown shootings.

The task force on hospitality and downtown safety expects to make formal recommendations on any changes in December.

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Councilman Frey said the group is focusing on six major areas:

  • Entertainment
  • Sidewalk safety
  • Public safety
  • Venue safety
  • Transportation
  • Quality of life