Crime decreases 45 percent in the Warehouse District following new focus on weekend night safety

Crime in the Warehouse District downtown has decreased significantly in the three weeks since City leaders announced a new, multi-pronged approach to improving safety in the area late on weekend nights. Today City leaders provided updates on the decrease in crime, as well as the ongoing efforts to deal with clubs and bars that are the source of many public safety problems.

Earlier this summer, Minneapolis was seeing an increase in crime Downtown, particularly in the Warehouse District late on weekend nights. Most people who come Downtown don’t ever see the problem, because much of this crime happens late at night on weekends and is fed by crowds and events at and around a small number of establishments, all located in a three-block area of the Warehouse District. 

Since the new policing strategies and enhanced work with businesses began three weeks ago, violent crime in the Warehouse District has decreased 45 percent, compared to the three week period before the new efforts began.

Minneapolis Police have been aggressively working to maintain safe streets downtown, with more officers on the streets, horse patrols, joint beat patrols with Hennepin County deputies and Metro Transit Police, probation beats and mobile cameras. Business licensing staff has worked with several clubs that have agreed to stop holding 18+ events on Sunday nights until September, and that has made a difference in improving safety.

Some of the additional actions that are still under way include:

Ordinance changes

This week, two draft City ordinances were introduced at the City Council that would make it easier for the City to put conditions on new or existing businesses. The flexibility will make it possible to address, among other things, stricter rules on separating legal drinkers from underage customers, or, should circumstances dictate, prohibitions on admitting any customers under the age of 21.

Currently, the City only imposes license conditions specific to an individual establishment through negotiating an agreement with the business. These changes would allow the City to impose license conditions to individual establishments without voluntary consent of the business, as long as those conditions are necessary and reasonable. Downtown has many well-managed nightclubs and bars that are not contributing to the rise in late-night problems. These ordinance revisions would help the City focus on problem businesses.

Before the draft ordinances are voted on by the City Council, City business licensing staff will meet with business owners and others in the industry to get feedback, and a public hearing will be held to get public input.

Holding clubs responsible

City leaders also announced today that City staff is taking action seeking to revoke the licenses of two establishments that they allege to have been the source of many problems on weekend nights. Yesterday, City staff notified Envy nightclub and Bootleggers nightclub that they intend to seek the revocation of the businesses’ liquor licenses. In taking this action, City staff is alleging documented violations of state and City laws related to the operation of on-sale liquor establishments.

Giving notice to those businesses sets in motion a process that could lead to the revocation of their business licenses. Moving forward, the two businesses have until Aug. 20 to decide whether to withdraw their license and close their doors, or whether to appeal the action to either the City Council or an administrative law judge.

 

Published Aug. 8, 2012