Police on horses, bikes, and foot will begin patrolling north Minneapolis in large numbers this month under a plan launched to counter crimes such as the brazen shooting that killed two men Friday at a steakhouse, the Minneapolis Star Tribune says. Those homicides have galvanized city leaders and prompted Police Chief Bill McManus to accelerate what is probably the most aggressive crime-fighting strategy in his 13 months leading the force. He is starting a new street-crime unit a few months early in hopes of reducing violence and livability crimes before summer, when crime traditionally increases. “I don’t want to get caught this summer without having a proactive force on the street,” McManus yesterday.
The chief wouldn’t say whether the motive at the restaurant shooting was drug- or gang-related; several people at the table were associated with gang members or are gang members. The 50-plus officers in the new street crimes operation will be drawn largely from the traffic and emergency-response teams and other units. The idea is to saturate a high-crime area, but the blocks-wide area could shift from day to day as community residents and crime reports indicate changing patterns and locations. Officers in cars will make traffic stops, while others will patrol on horseback, bicycles and foot to discourage drug deals, loitering, and nuisance crimes. One member of a Police Community Relations Council member doubts that the new unit will work. “I commend the chief, but the diversity just isn’t within the force to make it work,” said Booker T. Hodges. “You take 50 mostly white cops and put them in mostly black neighborhoods, what do you think is going to happen?”