Cedar-Riverside residents concerned about delayed police response times

Downtown events often cause officers patrolling the neighborhood to leave the neighborhood.

<p>Two children walk past police cars parked outside Riverside Plaza on Monday, March 19.</p>

Ananya Mishra

Two children walk past police cars parked outside Riverside Plaza on Monday, March 19.

Isabella Murray

Delayed police response times on West Bank have led community members and business owners to advocate for change.

Members of the Cedar-Riverside community have expressed understanding for Minneapolis Police Department’s call prioritization methods, but are frustrated with the lack of police urgency in their area.

“The police are doing their best and they’re doing well and they’re being responsive, but the concern that I’m having is that we don’t have enough manpower,” Ward 6 Minneapolis City Council member Abdi Warsame said.

The Cedar-Riverside community sits in MPD’s First Precinct, along with the Downtown West and Downtown East neighborhoods. When large events occur downtown, police officers are often pulled from the Cedar-Riverside community to assist.

“It kind of stretches the resources we have,” Warsame said.

Cedar-Riverside residents noticed the lack of police presence more when the Super Bowl and its affiliated events came to downtown Minneapolis in February. 

Warsame said his constituents have voiced a desire for more police in the area, whether the officers are specific to Cedar-Riverside or the First Precinct as a whole. 

“We need better response times, and to do that we need more police officers,” Warsame said. 

Area police presence is often brought up in community meetings, according to Russom Solomon, chair of the Cedar Riverside Neighborhood Revitalization Program safety committee and co-owner of The Red Sea restaurant and bar. But he said MPD has been attentive to resident frustration.

“The way that police respond is that they try to prioritize calls and respond accordingly,” Solomon said. “We cannot tell them not to do that.”

Solomon said local businesses can help monitor the community by paying attention to crime trends and suspicious individuals. 

“What helps is that we have a pretty involved business community, so we’re trying to get involved on our end,” West Bank Business Association Director Jamie Schumacher said.

Warsame said he’s met with MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo and expects more officers to be deployed to the neighborhood.

The date these officers will be added has not been decided, but the officers will also be culturally competent to better interact with the East African population in the area.  

Warsame said the addition of community engagement officers will offer a proactive approach to dealing with calls in the area.

Officers who are familiar with the area will foster trust between constituents and law enforcement, which could lead to less crime, Warsame said. 

“We ask all officers to help us achieve our goals of increasing public trust by working together with all community members,” MPD spokesperson Darcy Horn said in an email.