Slow 911 response times in SE Como prompt concern

A letter sent to city council members advocates for increased police resources in the area.

A Minneapolis Police officer patrols Dinkytown on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

Jack Rodgers

A Minneapolis Police officer patrols Dinkytown on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

by Emma Dill

Amid citywide concerns about delayed 911 response times, Southeast Como community members and officials have called on the city to increase police resources in the area. 

Over the past six months, residents have alerted the Southeast Como Improvement Association to three incidents in which 911 callers say they waited between 30 minutes and an hour for police to respond. The concerns come as the City of Minneapolis is considering adding officers to the Minneapolis Police Department and examining its current 911 procedures.

Some SECIA board members feel that the city has not kept up with the neighborhood’s increasing development and growing population, said Cody Hoerning, a SECIA board member.

“We feel that we’ve seen substantial growth [in Southeast Como] and not a proportional response from the City’s resources,” he said.

In response, SECIA members wrote a letter last month addressed to the area’s Minneapolis City Council representatives, detailing the three incidents and asking them to support increasing the size of MPD’s force.

According to the letter, a woman called police in July after a man exposed himself to her while she was walking in the neighborhood. When officers arrived 30 minutes later they could not find the suspect. Several days later the man was identified and arrested.

In June, a woman reportedly returned to her Southeast Como home and found the door kicked in. She waited for 45 minutes before officers responded, the letter says.

During another incident in late April detailed in the letter, an elderly woman fell inside her house and was unable to unlock the door for first responders. In order to force entry into a home, first responders are required to call the police.

Neighbors called police and reportedly waited an hour for officers to arrive.

Concerns about police response times in Southeast Como are not new but have gotten worse in past months, said SECIA President Karl Smith. The problem is not unique to the neighborhood, he said.  

“It’s not only a concern here, but I think citywide,” Smith said.

Because the city does not have a “clear policy” to determine MPD officer placement within the city, properly staffing the 2nd Precinct, which encompasses Southeast Como, Marcy-Holmes and Prospect Park, can be challenging, said Ward 2 City Council member Cam Gordon.

“Part of the case that I sometimes make is that the 2nd Precinct should just have more officers, let’s move them from somewhere else,” Gordon said. “We maybe have enough citywide but do we really have enough to meet the needs there in Dinkytown and Southeast Como and even Prospect Park?” 

Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed budget would add 14 MPD officers next year, including eight neighborhood outreach officers, three investigators and three traffic unit officers. 

Gordon said he supports this increase even though it is uncertain which precincts would receive the additional officers. 

Frey’s proposal follows MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo’s request for increasing staffing by 400 officers by 2025 to address slow response times. 

The city also formed a “MPD/911 workgroup” which is reviewing how the city responds to 911 calls.

Gordon said areas around the University have a range of resources, including the University of Minnesota Police Department, University security officers and local businesses, in addition to MPD officers that could help address the community’s safety concerns.

“There’s a whole network there that could maybe be coordinated better because of the uniqueness of the district and their needs, but also because of the University,” Gordon said.