Minneapolis crime reduction effort in the spotlight with prosecutors from around the country

Minneapolis’ innovative crime reduction strategy – which led to a three-fold reduction in crimes by top offenders in the downtown area - will be featured when hundreds of prosecuting attorneys and criminal justice experts from across the country gather for a national conference in Minneapolis May 7-8. The Downtown 100 is as a partnership between the City of Minneapolis, local businesses, non-profits, and the community. Between 2010 and 2011, the initiative led to a 74 percent decrease in crimes committed by top offenders in downtown Minneapolis.

City Attorney Susan Segal, Assistant City Attorney Lois Conroy, and Minneapolis Deputy Chief Kristine Arneson will be presenting at the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Conference, which is being held at Target Headquarters in Minneapolis.

The Downtown 100 initiative, funded in part, by the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID), involves an innovative partnership between the Minneapolis Police Department, the Minneapolis City Attorney’s office, the DID SafeZone, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, St. Stephen’s Human Services, Hennepin County Community Corrections, the Salvation Army, 1st Precinct neighborhood associations, and other community and business stakeholders.

The Minneapolis Police Department provides lists of top offenders based on crime statistics, and all the partners work together to reduce the chances those people will continue to reoffend. Livability crimes they’ve been involved in often include drug offenses, theft, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

Through the assistance of a grant from the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, there is a Downtown prosecutor and a Downtown probation officer dedicated just to this initiative. The program’s goal is to both reduce crime in the short term and develop solutions for maintaining law-abiding conduct in the long run.

From 2010-2011, the partnership has resulted in a dramatic decrease in crimes committed by the top offenders, a higher number of offenders on supervised probation, and an increase in the number of offenders who have housing, all leading to a safer Downtown.

Crime reduction

In addition to a 74 percent drop in crimes committed by the top 50 chronic offenders in the Downtown Improvement District, crimes committed by those individuals in the greater 1st Precinct dropped 77 percent and were down citywide by 27 percent. That means those crimes were prevented, not displaced to another part of town.

Probationary tools

Chronic offenders on probation commit fewer crimes than unsupervised offenders. In the first year, 70 percent of offenders had active supervision by a probation officer, and 70 percent also had geographic restrictions imposed that barred them from Downtown.

Downtown Court Watch

The members of the partnership, including representatives from all of the 1st Precinct neighborhoods, gather monthly to share information on crime and to make recommendations for dispositions on upcoming cases for top offenders. The Downtown Court Watch received an award in 2009 from the International Association of Chiefs of Police for the Best Community Policing Plan.

Social services

Obtaining social services for chronic offenders is also key in reducing crime, and those services include things like chemical dependency and mental health services, along with employment assistance. In the first year, 36 percent of offenders were provided with chemical dependency services, and 32 percent were provided with mental health services.

Housing

Another way to reduce crimes committed by chronic offenders is to assist them in obtaining housing. Fifty percent of the top offenders had or obtained a home during the program, compared to 20 percent at the beginning of the program.

Published May 4, 2012