MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sweet sounds from street performers serenaded Twins fans as they exited Target Field Sunday afternoon, but it was a sobering sight that snagged their attention.
“Just a little surprised at first. I mean, I did a double take,” said Jason Calabrese.
“My thoughts are, ‘You know what, thank you, you make me feel safe,’” said Tammy Deslauriers.
Three Minneapolis police officers were patrolling in and outside the stadium Sunday– this time armed with rifles. The added firearm and their presence was a direct reaction to the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
“These officers with additional resources are here not to scare or to intimidate people. They’re here to help preserve safety and to defend against the unthinkable,” said John Elder, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman.
Calebrese said he understands MPD made the change but added, “It’s a shame that it’s gotten to that point.”
In addition to the rifles, some of the officers have SWAT training. Others work in the police dogs and various divisions within the department that provided them additional training.
Sgt. Kevin Angerhofer was one of the three officers patrolling Target Field. He said the recent tragedies in Texas and Ohio stick in the back of their minds when they’re working.
“We’re always looking, it’s like where’s that next event going to be and when it does happen are we ready to respond and to stop it,” he said. “Time is of the essence. All officers trained in any kind of hostile event, active shooter situation that they need to move to that threat and they need to stop that threat.”
Downtown Minneapolis has seen its share of gun violence this summer, most notably a shooting on the rooftop of CRAVE restaurant on Hennepin Avenue. Patrols have increased around the entertainment district on weekends due to those incidents.
The presence of heavily-armed officers like Sgt. Angerhofer, specifically at events drawing large crowds, will add to that. Elder said it will continue until further notice.
“If that’s the new norm, that’s our new norm,” said Twins fan Monty Williams. “That’s the world that we live in now. I would rather feel safe and be protected than under-protected.”
A spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department said it’s not making immediate changes to patrols, but emphasized that is does maintain a strong security presence at large events.