Rybak is Focused on Public Safety, Northside
State of the City Agenda Calls for Increased Police Presence, Revitalized Northside
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak used his 2006 State of the City Address to call for increased police presence and declare a deep commitment to revitalizing north Minneapolis neighborhoods. Mayor Rybak delivered his speech at the historic Capri Theater, a beacon for changing times on West Broadway.
Making Minneapolis a Safe Place to Call Home
"The first and best thing we can do is to build a more visible police street presence, especially in high density and high crime areas," Rybak said. "For residents, this means that you will see and talk to more cops in high density and high crime areas. For police, this means that you will be getting out of your cars, out of your routines, and inserting yourselves into the community, building relationships with residents. For all of us, this means that we need to work together to get upstream on the root causes of crime."
In addition to increased police presence, Mayor Rybak announced a multi-pronged effort to improve public safety throughout the city, especially in popular areas and in neighborhoods most challenged by crime. Included in the plan was:
- Hiring 71 more police officers, as called for in the city’s 2006 budget. While the hiring process takes place, Interim Police Chief Tim Dolan is using city, state and county funds to put the equivalent of 70 cops on the street by May 5th.
- Establishing a Safety Center on West Broadway and using South Side and North Side Robbery Task Forces to contributing more police in areas with robbery patterns.
- Creating a new Juvenile Unit in the police department to coordinate youth enforcement and work with schools to centralize juvenile crime prevention.
- Supporting the successful Downtown Safe Zone and harness this model of collaboration between police and businesses for use in Uptown and north Minneapolis.
- Implementing more rigid geographical accountability to keep officers in the same areas for longer periods of time and pairing specific patrols with specific gangs.
Mayor Rybak also called for efforts to fight the root causes of crime by increasing the number of youth summer jobs, expanding youth recreation, and out-recruiting gangs with aggressive outreach to more disconnected youth.
"We will keep fighting this battle upstream. We can’t arrest the problem of crime away. There is a time for tough enforcement – and we will do that – but we also need to get at the root causes of crime. We must prevent crime by creating an environment of hope to attack the core issues of jobs, housing, and youth engagement," Rybak said.
"Minneapolis needs to make a promise to our youth: if you go to school, if you work hard, if you develop a life plan, and if you graduate, we will get you the counseling you need to plan your future, help you find a summer job, and help you get the funds you need to go to college," Rybak said.
The Mayor’s speech focused on a common agenda developed with the City Council that included goals for public safety as well as education, closing economic gaps, vibrant public spaces, the arts, environment, and economic development. Mayor Rybak explained the importance of each area of the shared agenda and then imposed the urgency of applying each goal in the most important area of the city right now: north Minneapolis.
Closing the Gaps: One Minneapolis
Mayor Rybak stressed the need to invest in job creation and placement for more people than ever. "In the last four years we doubled the annual number of people placed into jobs and we wiped out any gap between the suburban and urban unemployment rate. City government can make a tangible difference for people and we’re going to do even more of it with a community and economy that works for everyone," Rybak said.
"Our commitment to closing the gaps between people and places is very much about closing the gaps between north Minneapolis and other parts of the city. That’s why I’m glad to report that of the 4,200 jobs the city placed last year 1,300 were in the neighborhoods of north Minneapolis. Our goal for this year is 1,500 new jobs on the Northside," Rybak said.
A Renewed Commitment to Growing North Minneapolis
Mayor Rybak called for a common vision for north Minneapolis, declaring that there was no other part of the city needing more attention. "As city leaders, as entrepreneurs, as neighbors, as residents, I call on all of us: Now is the time and this is the place to make north Minneapolis the jewel we need it to be. This entire city – from top to bottom – needs to be committed to success in north Minneapolis," Rybak said.
Mayor Rybak’s plan for north Minneapolis was centered on public safety, but also included efforts to expand homeownership, support youth programs, and invest in economic development. To develop north Minneapolis, Mayor Rybak suggested that by staging a series of projects at the same time, city leaders could create a ripple effect throughout north Minneapolis similar to that of the Midtown Exchange in Phillips. He then outlined numerous housing and retail projects in north Minneapolis:
- Cub and CVS that are now both operating successfully.
- Just this afternoon, two new developments on Broadway just got approval from the City Council Community Development Committee. The first is an empowerment zone grant for a housing and retail development just east of Cub Foods. The second is a development by Stuart Ackerberg and Welsch at Emerson and Broadway that will include a deli, a Credit Union, and a job training center.
- Across the street from Cub, the American Indian Neighborhood Development Corporation plans to convert a former furniture store into a business incubator focused on the building trades.
- The Bean Scene just up the street from here is expanding into a full-service restaurant, and the owners have plans to renovate across the street with commercial retail, breathing life into an essential intersection.
- A retail development at Penn & Lowry.
- All these are being tied together with improved transit on both Lowry and Broadway.
"Every person in this city, every person in this region, every person in this state has a stake in the future of north Minneapolis. We will not be judged by how well we do with areas that are already doing well. We will be judged by whether we saw an area with deep challenges, and refused to rest until it realized its great potential. Let’s be clear: our chance of success here is lower, but that’s exactly why we need to be here," Rybak said.
Published Apr. 19, 2006