Minneapolis police are considering a New York-style attack on loitering, aggressive panhandling, intimidation, drug-selling, loud cursing, and other disorderly behavior at downtown bus stops and along sidewalks in the city’s core, says Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial writer Steve Berg. Deputy Police Chief Rob Allen told of recently walking down Hennepin Avenue in full uniform and being forced off the curb by a line of gangster lookalikes. “If that’s their level of respect for me, imagine how they treat other people,” he said.
In New York, Times Square precincts often led the city in felonies. Police started a “broken windows” enforcement policy, and a new Midtown Community Court was designed exclusively to handle livability crimes. “Judges realized that there are no victimless crimes,” said Greg Berman of the Center for Court Innovation, a judicial think tank. “On livability issues, the whole community is the victim.” After instituting community service penalties and social services, violent crime declined by 85 percent in the area. “Let’s see, in all of March no assaults, two burglaries, two robberies, no murders, no rapes,” said Bob Esposito of the Times Square Alliance. “Back in the ’80s we had 15 robberies a day.”