Contact: Matt Laible, Communications Department, (612) 673-2786

Minneapolis works to shut down convenience stores responsible for hundreds of police calls a year

June 6, 2007 (MINNEAPOLIS) The Minneapolis Grocery Store Task Force today reported success in reining in a handful of out-of-control convenience stores, some of which were the site of hundreds of police calls a year. The report was made to the City Council’s Public Safety & Regulatory Services committee. The Task Force also proposed three ordinance changes for Council to consider that are designed to enable the City to increase its ability to regulate or close down problem convenience stores.

Organized in January 2006, the Grocery Store Task Force was asked to find new ways to reduce loitering, drug dealing and assaults at some of the most troubled convenience stores in Minneapolis.

As a result of the concerted approach, three convenience stores that together generated more than 1,540 police calls in 2005 and 430 police calls in 2006 had their licenses revoked, and five additional stores were closed through administrative processes. Police calls at those locations have now nearly disappeared. The City worked with eleven additional trouble-prone stores and imposed new operating conditions, which has led to a significant drop in police calls. Of the approximately 400 convenience stores in Minneapolis, 36 are currently being actively monitored by the Grocery Store Task Force.

Thanks to these actions, neighborhood livability has improved and police calls have dropped dramatically, freeing police to proactively patrol neighborhoods rather than respond repeatedly to a handful of trouble-prone stores.

Task force members meet frequently to ensure better coordination of the monitoring and enforcement efforts handled by four separate City departments: Regulatory Services, Fire, Police and the City Attorney’s Office. They also utilize creative and aggressive tactics to boost their effectiveness, including enforcing zoning requirements, adding license conditions that exceed ordinance requirements, imposing geographic restrictions on troublemakers, and monitoring conditions on a daily basis.

The task force works by identifying the stores that generate the highest number of police calls. They then meet with the store owner to point out what changes are needed to reduce crime and neighborhood livability problems. Required changes can include stopping sales of single cigarettes and other items used by street-level drug dealers, repairing torn fences, fixing or installing security cameras, and closing earlier in the evening.

A store that is being monitored is visited daily by police, its zoning and business license requirements are examined, and inspectors visit to check food product expiration dates, overall cleanliness and the condition of food storage equipment. Additionally, known drug dealers are placed under geographic restrictions and prohibited from being near stores plagued by drug trafficking. (An individual with a history of drug arrests placed under a geographic restriction does not have to commit another crime to be picked up. Instead, the person can be ticketed or arrested for simply being in the restricted area.) Store owners who don’t make corrections face fines and progressive discipline that can lead to license revocation.

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Communications Department
301M City Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55415

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Published Jun. 6, 2007