By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of Minnesota’s largest cities is seeing crime at a 32-year low.

“Really going back to probably 2008, our trend has been gradually going down,” said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen.

Brooklyn Park is the sixth-largest city in the state. Typically as populations increase, so does crime — but not here.

“Going back 30 years to now, our population has gone up, you know, 30,000 people,” Enevoldsen said. “And our crime rate is actually much lower than it was back then, so it’s an awesome trend.”

A trend that Enevoldsen says began when officers traded in their uniforms for T-shirts and basketball shorts.

brooklyn park police play youth basketball Brooklyn Parks Crime Decrease Linked To Community Outreach

(credit: CBS)

Zanewood Community School has become more than just a place to learn. Officers get at-risk kids involved in activities of all kinds. They even help at times with homework.

“The part that’s cool about it is they learn that we’re human beings just like they are,” Enevoldsen said. “Just something as simple as taking off this uniform and having interaction like this, they get to know the officer by a first name. So that’s what I’ll hear. ‘Where’s Officer Greg? Where is Officer Josh?'”

But that is only part of it.

“Citizens have to be involved. We’re not going to be able to arrest our way out of this problem,” said Michael Nutter, former mayor of Philadelphia.

Nutter co-founded Cities United six years ago, which is a national network aimed at greatly reducing violence among young black men and teenagers. The network provides city leaders with tools and resources to cut down on violent crime.

Brooklyn Park is one of three Minnesota cities involved.

“When you have significant crime reduction, any reduction, you know that there are people who are alive today because of the work that you’ve done,” Nutter said.

Mayors from across the country were in Minneapolis last week as part of the annual Cities United gathering.

The organization’s goal is to cut the homicide rate for young black men and teenagers in half by the year 2025.

John Lauritsen