Searching for solutions to improve public safety and reduce chronic repeat criminal offenders, Seattle business leaders are asking Minneapolis what they did to reduce repeat criminal offenses in their downtown area by 75%.
“It used to be really bad,” said one of the panelists. “The downtown area used to be called “Murderapolis. ”’
A group from Minneapolis, including downtown improvement leaders, a prosecutor and the Minneapolis assistant police chief explained the impact program launched in their city nine years ago.
The plan, which improved downtown public safety dramatically, is a partnership between police, probation officers, prosecutors and social workers with financial support from Minneapolis businesses.
Part of the Minneapolis strategy is outreach from social workers and probation officers to prevent offenders from becoming frequent violent offenders.
The plan offers intensive social service offers from probation officers for drug rehabilitation and shelter. “Sometimes we give them the choice between drug counseling and jail,” said one Minneapolis panelist.
The Minneapolis Assistant police chief admitted he was stunned by the sight of open-air drug dealing at 3rd and Pine, while he took a walking tour of Seattle.
“I don’t see that same level in Minneapolis of openness,“ Kjos said.
“They just weren’t trying to hide (the drugs) at all.“
“His jaw dropped,“ said Erin Goodman SODO business improvement area president, who was with Kjos on the tour Monday. “I mean we walked by open narcotics dealing where I could see the product. We could see the money, and (Kjos) was just floored.”
“And the truth of the matter is, I wasn’t.“
Kjos told the audience—which included King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Seattle police—his department would not tolerate what he saw in Seattle.
“Walking back to our hotel last night we came across people shooting up, just standing right there on the sidewalk in front of us,” Kjos said.
“So, there are some areas for improvement here.”
Seattle business owner Ty Meyers told the Minneapolis panel Seattle has an issue with “public safety management,” with too few police officers and little support for law enforcement from city leaders.
“We have been nice to criminals, and we’ve been nice to people that we probably shouldn’t have been nice to,” he said.
“We’ve done that now for seven years. This is where it’s gotten us. It is now time to give law enforcement back the stick, that’s just it.”
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