By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis begins testing a new strategy Monday to help lessen the load for police.

Officers will no longer respond to overnight parking problems during the week. A new shift of Traffic Control staff is being added from 11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., in addition to the regular daytime hours.

Among its responsibilities, Traffic Control directs traffic, enforces parking and helps with road closures for construction or special events.

They also respond to parking complaints like blocked driveways or alleys, obstructed bike lanes, fire lanes or crosswalks, as well as handicap parking violations.

At about 6 p.m., police take over some of those calls, then all of those calls during the overnight. The new shift is supposed to alleviate that burden.

(credit: CBS)

Traffic Control staff are unarmed but not untrained, says Saray Garnett-Hochuli, Minneapolis’s interim director for regulatory services.

“They go through weeks of training how to direct traffic. They have to understand code and ordinance and violations,” Garnett-Hochuli said. “They are pretty incredible individuals that are out working in the city in all weather.”

Garnett-Hochuli says there are enough overnight parking complaints to justify adding these staff members, because the response isn’t always timely when police are tasked with those calls themselves.

In a statement, an MPD spokesperson said, “Considering the reduced levels in MPD staffing, MPD welcomes the assistance of Minneapolis Traffic Control which will help reduce the number of lower priority calls assigned to officers potentially resulting in increased officer availability for response to higher priority calls that impact life safety and property preservation.”

There are no changes to how to make urgent parking complaints. People can still call either 311 or 911.

David Schuman