By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every day, Minneapolis police officers are called to situations that are non-criminal in nature.

Now, the department is looking for community members to serve as navigators to help people find the resources they need.

Police officer are often called to issues of homelessness, poverty and even mental health.

The Minneapolis Police Department believes there are people in the community that can respond to those situations better than officers, and now the department wants to put them on the pay roll.

“We are not going to be able to arrest these problems away, nor do I as chief want to see our department in any way shape or form criminalizing some of these conditions that affect our city,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

He wants to make sure people facing poverty, homelessness and dealing with mental health issues are given resources, not jail time.

“I know as chief there are people out there who can do this work far more better than we can,” Arradondo said.

As such, he’s now looking for community navigators.

Their job will be to address issues that are ongoing and be a conduit to helping police deal with systemic problems.

“They will not be sitting around waiting on a 911 call, they will actually be a part of those communities that they are serving,” Arrandondo said. “They will be on the ground working with everyone…they will be out there, they will really have a hands-on impact.”

The community navigators will also address the issues of trust in communities of color.

Four will be hired and work in the Native and African-American, East African and Latino communities.

Arradondo says there is a lot of interest in the positions and the only negative is only four positions are funded.

The money to hire community navigators comes from the police department’s budget.

Arradondo wants to move fast. The application deadline is June 22. He hopes to have his navigators selected by early July.

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