Minneapolis traffic officers add night shift so MPD can respond to priority calls

Traffic officers respond to parking violations and abandoned vehicles during weekdays.

A+parking+meter+in+Minneapolis+on+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+16.+The+City+of+Minneapolis+has+added+a+night+shift+for+traffic+control+officers+to+respond+to+parking+violations%2C+shifting+some+responsibilities+away+from+MPD+officers.

Andrew Stoup

A parking meter in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 16. The City of Minneapolis has added a night shift for traffic control officers to respond to parking violations, shifting some responsibilities away from MPD officers.

by Hanna Van Den Einde

Minneapolis added an overnight shift for traffic control officers starting Oct. 4 to free up resources and time for Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers to respond to priority calls.

Minneapolis traffic officers currently respond to parking violations, abandoned vehicles and parking complaints during daytime hours on Mondays to Fridays. By adding a night shift, city officials hope that police officers will have more time to respond to higher priority calls instead of spending time on parking violations.

“A parking problem is a very low priority,” MPD Officer Garrett Parten said. “When [traffic control officers] are not working, those parking calls get sent to our Minneapolis dispatch and the squad has to go out. If it’s an issue that requires a tow, then the officer has to sit there and typically wait for a tow truck and clear the problem out.”

Under the new pilot program, traffic control officers can issue citations for parking violations but will not be able to give traffic citations such as speeding tickets. They field calls from 911 dispatch and the non-emergency dispatch line to respond to parking violations.

Three agents and one field supervisor respond to calls during the night shifts. The data from the pilot program will be used to determine if more officers should be added during the shift and if the shift should be full time. The program does not have a set end date because they are receiving ongoing funding.

Minneapolis officials implemented the pilot program because of the citywide crime increase, so that more MPD officers can respond to violent crimes. Violent crime in Minneapolis has increased by 33% during the past two years. Within the past year, crime rose by nearly 60% in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood.

Kent Kramp, the vice president of the Dinkytown Business Alliance, said he wanted the city to implement more safety measures in Marcy-Holmes.

“We saw an increase in police presence during the beginning of the school year between the University of Minnesota Police Department and the county sheriffs, and it really changed the feel of the neighborhood,” Kramp said. “It felt safer almost instantly.”

Abdirizak Bihi is a community leader in Cedar-Riverside and ran for the Ward 6 council member position in the 2021 election. Bihi advocated for shifting some responsibilities away from the police, such as mental health calls, so that officers could focus on responding to violent crimes.

“We’re hoping to see police deal with violent crimes and investigations and have the resources and the time for that,” Bihi said.

Ahmed Adow, director of traffic control in Minneapolis, said the program has only been around for a month, so they do not have enough data to determine the success.

“We still need more time to at least collect more data to actually pinpoint whether it’s really needed,” Adow said. “Based on the data that we will be collecting from this pilot program, we should be able to determine whether there’s a need to have a full, permanent overnight shift for traffic control.”

Adow said the current officers working the pilot program are officers that worked for the department already.

“The overnight shift was really a win-win situation operation-wise because we had existing officers who actually know the city and who also know the procedure of handling complaints,” Adow said.