MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The effects of the violence following the death of George Floyd still linger in south Minneapolis, in physical damage and the uptick in crime in the area.
Hannah Kenny has lived in Minneapolis on and off for 20 years.
“I think what makes it especially scary is that it’s been happening during the day,” Kenny said.
She came to a community meeting near Whittier Park Sunday to learn more about a new city-backed initiative that will put teams of unarmed civilians on the streets for the purpose of engagement and de-escalation.
Sasha Cotton is the director of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention.
“We really want to rely on those who have, you know, maybe been a part of groups in gangs in their past and their history, but have done the hard work to change their lives,” Cotton said. “Those are the definitely the kinds of of folks we’re looking for.”
The OVP aims to use a community-focused, public health approach to help prevent violence. Cotton says the newest initiative is based on the community-based Cure Violence model that she says has had success in other cities around the country.
“One of the things that New York City points to for their reductions in violence over the last year is Cure Violence-like models,” she said.
The goal is to recruit and train community responders now to get them out on the streets as early as this month. They will not be there to replace the work of police.
“Maybe there’s a large congregation of youth on a corner or at the park or something and the call would be for suspicious activity in the sense of they don’t know what they’re doing,” OVP consultant Jamil Jackson said. “That would be a call that we would go engage.”
Jackson will work on the north side, where he grew up, and hopes to offer alternative resources to struggling youth.
The plan is to start with teams in the north and south sides, and adding to entertainment districts.
The OVP says the community patrol positions will be paid.