City-wide crime

by Sarah McKenzie

Despite a recent spike in burglaries, the areas of Minneapolis comprising a large part of the University community experienced an 11 percent overall decline in serious crime in 1998.
A record 38 burglaries have plagued businesses and churches in Stadium Village and Dinkytown since December; only two to three such break-ins per month are common in these neighborhoods.
The entire city of Minneapolis’ serious crime rate fell by 16 percent, police announced last week in an annual report. The rate of robbery, assault and theft is the lowest in 20 years.
Minneapolis police Sgt. Robert Allen said part of last year’s decline in crime can be attributed to a policing strategy known as CODEFOR — Computer Optimized Deployment, Focus On Results.
The department implemented the policy last February. Allen coordinates CODEFOR and said it helps officers track crime hot spots on computer-generated maps and target chronic offenders. He said arrests went up 25 percent throughout the city last year.
Dinkytown and Stadium Village have been under higher police scrutiny in light of the recent surge in break-ins. Officers keep close tabs on those committing smaller crimes in hopes of catching the individual or individuals responsible for the burglaries, Allen said.
“You’re probably more likely to get pulled over in Dinkytown for a minor traffic violation right now,” Allen said. “We target areas with emerging crime patterns and try to prevent crimes before they happen.”
Neighborhood leaders around the University said they are not very informed about CODEFOR, but have noticed more squad cars around.
“I’ve definitely noticed more officers patrolling the neighborhood,” said Pat Karber, co-leader of the Prospect Park block club. “But our neighborhood does tend to be pretty quiet when it comes to crime.”
Located on the southeastern edge of campus, the Prospect Park neighborhood has been home to Karber for 10 years. She said the level of crime has remained pretty consistent.
“We did have a whole rash of burglaries the summer of 1997,” Karber said. But the neighborhood residents requested more security and the police were responsive, she said.
Karber said she is skeptical of CODEFOR and wary of police motives when they target certain neighborhoods and individuals. Many minority groups have criticized the police for being so quick to arrest.
Allen refutes the criticism and said many of the arrestees have extensive criminal backgrounds even if they are picked up for minor offenses.
Nicole Magnan, a southeast Minneapolis crime prevention specialist for the police department, said the new strategy allows police to get more criminals off the street and into their offices for questioning.
More arrests means officers are finding out more information about the respective neighborhoods, Magnan said.
Darlene Edwards, head of the residents’ association at Glendale, said Minneapolis public housing often carries a stigma associated with high crime. Located just east of the University, Glendale houses many residents from Somalia and countries in East Asia.
Police often patrol the streets winding through Glendale, Edwards said.
Last June, Glendale was the target of a police drug raid, Edwards said. But officers came out of the raid pretty empty handed, she said.
“People think we live in a slum area,” Edwards said. “That is simply not true; we are a community of working poor.”
Edwards has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and said she decided to raise her grandchildren at Glendale instead of Park Rapids, a small town in northern Minnesota.
“This is a wonderful place to live,” said Edward’s 12-year-old grandson Anthony Maves. “There is so much to do and I feel very safe.”