MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The summer months are right around the corner and that means a lot of people will be out exploring everything downtown Minneapolis has to offer.
Minneapolis city and business leaders met Thursday to discuss a plan aimed to create a welcoming and safe Hennepin Avenue.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau were among the city leaders who helped unveil the plan at Mayo Clinic Square.
Over the past several months, a workgroup made up of local government and business community leaders talked over ways to work with law enforcement on the issue.
The area has been plagued with so-called “nuisance” crimes for years, but things have turned violent in the past.
Leaders emphasized that this plan specifically focuses on safety in the area during the daylight hours. Last November, a fight broke out near the light rail platform at 5th Street and Hennepin Avenue on a Sunday afternoon in broad daylight.
Various outreach teams will he added along Hennepin Avenue, dealing with chemical dependency and child welfare issues. Minneapolis officers will also employ a new strategy to patrol the area.
“We expect officers to be out there on these posts during those commuter times — 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., 3 to 6 p.m. — engaging with people,” Harteau said.
Hodges said, while crime is down downtown, more proactive work is needed.
“Many of the people on Hennepin Avenue who are engaging in unwelcoming behaviors during the day are in need of outreach assistance and human connection, not law enforcement intervention,” she said.
As for the issue of nighttime violence, the mayor’s office claims there are many strategies underway to address issues that can arise when the bars let out.
The importance of maintaining Minneapolis’s reputation as a safe and welcoming place comes as the city prepares to host major events over the next few years, like the Super Bowl, the X Games and the Final Four.