Minneapolis police have ended their program of sponsoring “McGruff Houses” for children who are scared or in trouble, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Kids are encouraged to go to the marked houses occupied by residents who have agreed to provide safety and call parents or authorities if necessary. The police department said a “reorganization” had ended the program and asked residents to return their McGruff signs.
Luther Krueger, a police crime prevention analyst,said the program fell victim to dwindling resources to recruit volunteers, waning interest among residents in becoming McGruff House hosts, and eroding faith that the program was effective. “Existing McGruff Houses have not been used by lost kids or kids in jeopardy to the degree that justifies [the program],” he said. Minneapolis, which got its first McGruff House in 1984, had nearly 1,000 in 1990, but fewer than 160 at the end of 2008. Krueger added that other departments across the U.S. have similarly withdrawn from the program and others like it because of similar public resistance and a lack of measurable success. The National Crime Prevention Council, which promotes the program, did not return calls.