Start: 6:15 pm
23 in attendance
Minutes of March meeting: approved
MINNEAPOLIS PARK AND RECREATION: PROGRAMS AND SAFETY
Our guest speakers were Larry Umphrey, Director of Recreation Centers and Programs, and Lt. Calvin Noble, Minneapolis Parks Police.
SUMMER IN THE PARKS: Larry Umphrey:
Thanks to financial support from Major League Baseball, Eastside parks will be enjoying the ever popular Fundamentals of Baseball program and the fields will be getting some much needed improvements.
There are many programs available during the summer that include Day Camp “Camp Northeast”. These are “closed campus” programs so kids who are enrolled are being kept on site, not wandering off. All youth programs, including day care and camps are linked to this page:
Summer programs include a meal which is paid for by the USDA and the MPS Summer Lunch Program.
The Night Owls Program is for 12-18 year-olds on Friday nights, again providing good programs in a safe place.
The Master Planning Meetings are going on now, mostly focused on spring basketball, softball, track and field. Fields are being revamped to meet changing needs of changing programs. Eliott Park now has an artificial turf soccer field which is partly an answer to the need created by the heavy use the parks get. Fields are used for skating in the winter, followed by three seasons of hard use as playing fields. There really isn’t any time for soil or turf to recover.
One very important and very “green” new item is coming this summer: Weber is opening a new concept in public aquatics: a pool and beach development at Weber will be the first non-chemical natural filter for clean water. Look for announcements in July.
POLICING THE PARKS: Lt. Calvin Noble
Lt. Calvin Noble, who leads the Park Police Department’s patrol division spoke about changes in that office.
Established in 1887, the MPRB Police is a separate department from the MPD. Officers are fully trained by MPD, and have all the responsibilities of any MPD officer. The Park Police have 35 sworn officers on staff but changes in the pension plan moved many people to take retirement. The force is now returning to full strength, by the end of this year 14 of the 25 patrol officers will be new to the department within the past two years.
Officers are assisted by members of the Park Patrol: 10 people are currently in training for that. Those new agents will bring the department back to the full strength of 22 Park Patrol Agents. The Park Agents wear grey while the Park Officers wear MPD uniforms. Park Patrol Agents are authorized to take reports, write tickets, etc., freeing regular Officers to work in the parks and handle more serious crimes. When the MPRB Police is fully staffed it has 57 individuals including both Park Police Officers and Park Patrol Agents. Park Police are off duty at 1AM and back on at 7AM. Between those times, park security is the responsibility of the MPD.
As recently as the 1970s, the MPRB Police used to have a lot of part time police officers; many summer staff were actually school teachers who needed extra jobs. That program eventually became what is now the Park Patrol Agent program. Under the current program, Park Agent training is standard and professional. One downside is that they lose many employees each year to jobs in other places. Many of the Park Agents are either in school to become an officer or have completed their schooling and are seeking sworn positions with a police department. Being a Park Patrol Agent is a valuable line on a resume; the training is that good and other cities want staff with Minneapolis training!
The Park Police are responsible for some 200 pieces of land in several cities, including St. Louis Park, St. Anthony and other cities. Parks are 15% of the land in Minneapolis but the site of only 3% of the crime.
The Minneapolis Park Police works collaboratively with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s department as well as other local law enforcement agencies where the MPRB has property.
There are a lot of requests for dog parks in Minneapolis, but that is a NIMBY issue. Because of dog owners’ perceived need for dog parks, the Park Police get a lot of complaints about unleashed dogs in the people parks. It is one of the biggest complaints that the department receives.
Much of the crime in the parks is down though there has been a rise in robberies in some parts of Minneapolis. Most of the robberies involve the suspect taking the victim’s phone. Note that theft from a locked car is considered a property crime, not a crime against person. Criminals watch to see what runners tuck something under the driver’s seat or in the trunk, wait until the owner is out of sight and then break in; it only takes moments.
Two circumstances drive many Thefts from Motor Vehicles: a stolen credit card retrieved from under a car seat can be easily be used, often before it’s reported stolen. Target, among other places, does not require an ID to use a credit card, so a stolen card can be used to purchase gift cards. Similarly cellphones are often easy to take because most people carry one and people often have them out either talking on them, looking down at them, or allow suspects to use/see the phones. When people are looking at their phones, they’re not alert to their surroundings. Until recently the phones could be flipped for cash in kiosks with nothing to even slow down the process. Recent laws have changed that though there are other means of selling a stolen phone for cash or trading for other items.
INSPECTOR WAITE’S REPORT ON EASTSIDE CRIME:
Burglaries are on the rise, especially in large apartment buildings, which can have a “dormitory” atmosphere. People know people on their floors, and figure the street doors are locked so leave their apartment doors unlocked. Additionally, as homeowners get into their yards, they leave their doors unlocked also. At this time of year, lots of bikes and lawnmowers disappear from unlocked garages.
The best advice is to mark your property so that you can identify it. Too often the police will find a bike that has been abandoned someplace that is close to a description of a disappeared bike but since there is no serial number or hidden ID, there is nothing the police can do to match the bike with the description. Serial numbers are always best.
Robberies are increasing especially west of Central and north of Broadway.
Inspector Waite asks that people please call about juveniles out past curfew. These young people are very vulnerable in many respects, not only being victims of crime, but also beginning to move into a poor life style.
SUNDAY- THURSDAY FRIDAY-SATURDAY
Under 12 Home by 9PM Home by 10PM
12-14 Home by 10PM Home by 11PM
15-17 Home by 11PM Home by Midnight