MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police presence was stepped up throughout downtown Minneapolis Saturday night.

A Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson says the idea behind the elevated patrol levels is that a visible police presence snuffs out violence before it starts.

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Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Medaria Arradondo gathered once again Saturday with faith and community leaders to talk about what must be done about recent violence. And once again they strongly denounced it, calling the shootings unacceptable acts that must stop.

(credit: CBS)

They also offered actions.

“We’ve got community patrols that are going to be out on many of the intersections that several of the reverends and bishops are helping to organize,” Frey said. “I’m going to take a shift myself out on one of these corners.”

“Our police officers, our men and woman, will continue, as they did last night downtown, they will continue to rush into harm’s way, to rush toward the sound of shots,” Arradondo said.

In addition to MPD’s increased patrols, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is dispatching more deputies.

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There will be more state resources Saturday from State Patrol and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

In coordination with law enforcement, faith leaders are seeking volunteers who will help interrupt the cycles of violence.

“You can sign up on what we’re calling ’21 Days of Peace,'” said Rev. Jerry McAfee of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church. “We want to saturate all of those neighborhoods with people of good will.”

The city is training six teams of “violence interrupters” to mediate conflict and stop retaliation. They’re expected to be ready to go next month. A similar program had to be sidelined late last year and pulled off the street because it was determined to be too dangerous.

Councilmember Steve Fletcher released a statement in which he thanked responding officers, offered his condolences and said, in part, “The increase in gun violence is unacceptable, and must stop.

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“Just this week, we had a discussion on gun violence in the Public Health and Safety Committee. We learned that collaboration between MPD and the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) has improved in recent weeks, and group violence intervention (GVI) efforts the Council funded and directed last year are now under way. This work is critical, because no matter how many officers are present and as long as guns are as easy to access as they are, there will never be a way to prevent this kind of rapid escalation to extreme violence with only a law enforcement response.”

David Schuman