Members of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office gather together during August's National Night Out Information Tent event on Nicollet Mall. (Photo credit: Adam Bettcher)
The annual SafeZone Joint Beats initiative again featured a collaborative effort of crime prevention and engagement by the Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit Police that yielded another summer of favorable crime-prevention results.
Throughout the summer, these local law enforcement organizations worked together to provide additional crime prevention, engagement and enforcement in the Downtown Minneapolis area. From May 2-Sept. 1, the Summer Joint Beats increased uniform presence while maintaining and establishing contacts with private security.
Working together, the agencies communicated and acted on the same mission to deter crime during the summer months in the downtown area—they provided additional patrols at different times between 12 p.m. and 3 a.m. throughout the week, with the amount of patrols varying each day.
“When law enforcement personnel work in collaboration, we have the ability to work proactively,” Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek said in a statement. “We are responding to incidents, and we are also preventing minor incidents from escalating.”
During the 2014 Summer Joint Beats initiative, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office recorded making more than 6,800 contacts with citizens and business owners.
Through the Metro Transit Police Department, Joint Beats helped account for 2,169 bus on-boards in downtown—a session in which a Metro Transit officer rides a bus for at least 10 minutes. Metro Transit provided an additional 1,904 hours and made 972 contacts with citizens through the Joint Beats program this summer. Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington said the number of Metro Transit arrests decreased throughout the summer months—beginning with 12 from May 26-June 30, seven in July and one in August.
Metro Transit Captain Michael LaVine said high visibility helps create a safe and secure environment, and that’s something that Joint Beats provided—especially during Major League Baseball’s All-Star Weekend in mid-July.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau agreed that the increased street presence is an important part of helping provide additional safety measures for Downtown Minneapolis.
“The Joint Summer Beats provide additional visible uniform law enforcement presence during peak times and at key high pedestrian volume locations in Downtown Minneapolis,” Harteau said. “MPD teamed up with HCSO in this Joint Summer Beat venture as a public safety force multiplier that helps address crime issues downtown as well as strengthen the feel of safety that many of our downtown community members experience.”
The Joint Beats program is part of Safe Zone, which began in 2005 and has been a Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID) subsidiary program since 2009. The DID works to create a greener, cleaner, safer Downtown Minneapolis, and in order to achieve those goals they work coordinate and collaborate with initiatives throughout the year.
Along with the Joint Beats, other DID summer initiatives included safety workshops along with the MPD, public panhandling education, tactical urbanism through the University of Minnesota Streetscape Lab class and other avenues, the DID/MPD Police Activities League Youth Crime Prevention tent during the Thursday Farmers Market on Nicollet Mall, the DID Fusion Center and RadioLINK operations, safety week media releases in August, the Downtown 100 Chronic Offenders program, DID/MPD Police Reserves and more.
The DID also works closely with St. Stephen’s Human Services, the Youth Coordinating Board, the Minneapolis Youth Leadership Academy and other organizations to help achieve their goals of creating a greener, cleaner and safer community.
The Summer Joint Beats help the DID achieve the goal of keeping downtown safe.
“Having the Joint Beats working together is an important way to help keep our Downtown Minneapolis streets safe,” Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District President and CEO Steve Cramer said. “It shows the unison and solidarity that our law enforcement agencies are working under to keep our citizens safe, especially with the extra activity during the summer months.”
Sheriff Stanek said at its core these collaborations are what the local law enforcement agencies strive to achieve each day.
“Ongoing partnerships like these help deputies and police officers to establish good working relationships,” Stanek said. “Collaboration for daily enforcement initiatives also helps us to maintain readiness for a multi-agency response to emergency incidents.”