Minneapolis Police Department wins second international award of the year

The Minneapolis Police Department will receive its second international award of the year from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The Community Policing Award, sponsored jointly by IACP and Cisco Systems, recognizes the MPD’s Downtown Courtwatch program as a best practice in community policing because of its use of collaboration and partnerships to make our community safer from crime.

Courtwatch is a collaboration of public and private interests that encompasses all stakeholders in addressing criminal activity. The input from stakeholders is used to influence the eventual outcome in both the criminal case and the offender’s life. The program was driven initially by community and business concerns over crime in the downtown core and its impact on both the economy and the perception of public safety.

Courtwatch partners the MPD with residents, county and city prosecutors, probation, homeless outreach workers, mental health workers, community activist, security officers, shelter representatives and businesses. All of these stakeholders are brought together monthly to evaluate the impact of specific offenders on the community and to map out a strategy to deal with them. For some of these offenders, alternatives to prosecution such as help with chemical dependency, mental health and housing are used to influence recidivism. For others community impact statements are taken and used to influence the sentencing in criminal cases when lesser methods are not likely to succeed.

The program makes extensive use of technology to assist in the process primarily through the use of electronic communications and information management to track offenders, coordinate response strategies and solicit community input into the process. The downtown public safety camera system and security radio link are also used to react to criminal activity and to document the behavior and identify the offender.

The success of this program has been measured in both intangible and tangible results. Residents and business leaders feel that the downtown core is safer and feel empowered as a part of the solution. Tangibly there is reduced recidivism on the part of identified chronic offenders and reduced crime in distinct geographic areas of the City.

Sept. 8, 2009

Published Sep 3, 2009