Crime-ridden areas of North Minneapolis need “a long-term commitment to effective change” rather than just beefed-up police patrols and crackdowns, says St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario. the gangland-style slayings of a 21-year-old man and an innocent bystander at a restaurant could pave the way for such a transformation, Rosario says. Last year, 39 of the city’s 54 homicides, and eight of the 10 killings so far this year occurred mostly in four neighborhoods that have among the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, substandard housing, high school dropouts, drug crimes and single heads of households in the city or the state.
In addition to incrased patrols, city officials are resurrecting Minnesota HEALS, which stood for Hope, Education And Law and Safety. The partnership of police, social, and corporate organizations was formed in 1997 in response to the record-breaking 97 homicides in the city in 1995 – nearly double last year’s number. The effort, which involved police and prosecution initiatives, job creation, and an infusion of new business ventures, largely was credited with reducing the street bloodshed that has moved northward in recent years. At the urging of Police Chief William McManus and others, Chuck Wexler of the Washington, D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum was brought in this month to replicate the effort in North Minneapolis. Wexler believes there is far more acceptance of such partnerships and more players willing to tackle problems now than a decade ago.