Dec. 2020 Meeting, part 2 report: Courtwatch and Neighborhood Updates

COURTWATCH:   Sandra Filardo HC-AO, Nnamdi Okoronkwo Mpls.-AO and Holly Ihrke HC-PO attending.  

We proceeded through our list, noting that not much had changed for a long time.   Most people are either on hold or progressing through the system and awaiting review hearings.  Exceptions:

  • Kelli Durow (aka Tamera Hoveland) – Was found incompetent at her 12/08/2020 hearing and  11 pending cases were closed/dismissed.  She has 38 contacts in the 2nd Pct since 2017 and 39 city-wide contacts.  2 convictions.
  • Samuel Hasse – In custody/HWB.  12/15/2020 hearing on Felony possession of burglary tools, on 5th Degree Assault, theft, 4th Degree damage to property, tamper vehicles, disorderly conduct.  A probation hearing has been added to that list.
  • Joshua Poplawski – Released from Work House 10/30/2020.  Charge is pending for 11/14/20 trespass; 12/9/20 arraignment on one charge, pretrial on one charge and First appearance on 2 charges.  1/5/21 Arraignment on 4 charges, 1/26/21 arraignment on one charge. He has 40 city-wide contacts since 1995, 24 police contacts in the 2nd precinct since 2003, 17 prior convictions.  Update on 12/14: Poplawski failed to appear on the 9th and now has a Bench Warrant. 

ACTIVE, OLDER BENCH WARRANTS:

  • Daniel Heacock – Did not appear for his  08/11/20 hearing for theft and check forgery in the 1st Precinct.  He now has an active Bench Warrant.  Heacock has been found incompetent in the past.
  • Kirk Robledo –  On bench warrant status for failure to appear at court hearing on 10/6/20.  No updates or further cases.
  • Leslie Wade – On bench warrant status for failure to appear at 9/30/20 hearing on several open cases.  No updates or new cases.

Four people were removed from the watch list after having no  further citations for many months.

Last month,  Atty. Filardo outlined the Rule of 20.  If a person is not able to understand court proceedings or participate in their own defense, the hearing is not allowed to proceed and all those cases are put “On Pause”.   If it’s decided that this person will never be able to understand proceedings, a civil commitment may be indicated.   Civil commitment is when someone is institutionalized in a mental health facility.    A civil commitment is a possibility when a person’s actions are a danger to themselves or to others.   She emphatically stated that it’s very difficult to get someone off the streets using a civil commitment process.  The case would first go to social services to see what else they can do to work for him.  

The full statute can be read here:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/court_rules/cr/id/20/

This month, Atty. Filardo raised an important issue for discussion:  Courts are backed up and are focusing on cases that are felonies or gross misdemeanors, rather than trespasses and low level incidents, which are still getting pushback.  Atty. Okoronkwo added that the First Precinct is still doing a longer list because it’s drawing from its 100 Cases project, which the 2nd Precinct does not use.   What we’re doing in our Courtwatch is static and doesn’t really look at issues that residents are concerned about. The other Precincts are watching higher level complaints in the courts.

Attenders chimed in, saying they’d like to see a more active plan, which is likely to be of more interest to 2nd Precinct residents.   Additionally, 2-PAC wants to see more reports and questions from other Second Precinct residents. 

Emilie Quast stated that she’d like to continue to track a few of the chronic offenders.  She is concerned that no one is being well served by the current model.   The repeat low-level offenders are taking up an inordinate (and expensive) amount of officer and other professional time when our force is understaffed; the community continues to deal with livability issues because nothing is in place to make them stop; the offenders are not having their mental health and other issues addressed while they continue to make themselves vulnerable.   Atty. Okoronkwo referred to these as “gap cases” and will file “intent to prosecute” when he sees that filing is warranted.  This will keep the offenders on the radar.

Probation Officer Ihrke commented that about half of the people on the longer (static) list are her clients.   The most chronic offenders know just how far they can go without being handed a penalty they don’t want to pay.   They are offered many kinds of services and generally evade  using them. 

We agreed that in January we’ll try a new Courtwatch model with more focus on immediate and higher-level offenses in the Precinct.  Thank you for working this to an agreement.


STATE OF THE PRECINCT:  Inspector Loining
Car-jacking has been a city-wide problem.   375 incidents throughout the city this year is 3 times the number in 2019.  A multi-agency “mop-up” took place on December 9-11,  with MPD, Sheriff’s Office, and the State Patrol, in coordination.   This was mostly on the South Side but touched all five precincts.   Results:   41 felony-level and 9 gross-misdemeanor citations written, 7 vehicles were recovered, and 5 handguns confiscated.  Among the arrests was the person believed responsible for two of the three 2nd Pct recent carjackings.  Congratulations!

Auto-theft has also surged, especially around food delivery and pickup sites.   Delivery services like DoorDash or Ubereats are likely targets, but residents picking up their orders are just as big targets.  Thieves are in the area, watching for the opportunity to hop in an unlocked running car and take off down the street.    For protection, turn off your car and lock it.  It only takes a minute to run in and get your pizza, but that’s plenty of time for someone to drive your car off.

Catalytic converter theft is another hot issue.   As of December 18, 2020, the current price of platinum is $1,043.10 per ounce; it tends to be two times the price of gold.   The Toyota Prius and Honda Element are the cars most targeted.   It takes a very few minutes for someone to remove the converter with a SawzAll.   Again: citizen eyes and ears are needed to combat this, so if you hear or see something, report it immediately.  A squad may be able to spot the thief’s car at his next stop in your area. 

The 2nd Precinct has long had three chronic trouble areas:  The Central Avenue corridor up to Lowry, Dinkytown, and Stadium Village near the Greenline station.     Patrols are frequent but there are still too many incidents.   We need more eyes on the streets here!

The Quarry is an area of rising concern during this holiday season.   There is always a level of shoplifting in the stores.   Cub has already hired security.   One surprising event was that two shoppers leaving Target were confronted by someone with a handgun, in the parking lot.   It only took him a moment to startle them, grab their bags, and leave. 

Staffing:   The Second Precinct has had its share of staffing issues and is actually 10 down from full staffing.  The MPD has a new officer draft this month:  23 new officers were graduated and have finished their field training.   The 2nd Precinct was awarded 8 of the 23 new officers!    Thanks to Inspector Loining and congratulations to us all.   Great News!


REPORTS FROM RESIDENTS and YOUR 2-PAC BOARD:
2020 would have been the 37th consecutive holiday season buffet at the Precinct for all first responders working on 12-24.   Sadly, we had to cancel.   Drawing donations and workers from across the Precinct would have brought far too many people into the Precinct, way over the most liberal Covid-19 safety guidelines for gathering.   The 37th Buffet will take place on December 24, 2021.   Everyone’s ideas and energy are needed.   We’ll start plans and meetings in November, 2021.  Stay tuned.
A list  of our regular donors — some of whom have been with us the entire 36 years — will be posted in the January “Northeaster Newspaper”.  Please support them.

A resident from Logan Park asked about NextDoor reports of multiple holdups in the area near University between 15th and 17th.   People were followed and threatened, some as they got into their cars.   Inspector Loining remarked that NextDoor is a valuable resource for community info, but the reporting isn’t always clear.  Meanwhile, CPS Juarez checked the reports file; he found 3 incidents in the area in November and 1 on December 2nd, definitely suggesting increased patrols.  It also points to the need for people to be very aware of their surroundings.

Cody Hoerning asked what are issues about retailers hiring off duty officers or other security.   There are several issues:  hiring a security service means many places will have to figure out who owes how much: it’s not a big expense for a national firm, but it may be a very big thing for a small operation.   There is also the fact that much of the shoplifting is done by teens.  If they get spotted and stopped, they may be aggressive trying to get away, which raises the liability issue: who is liable?

Carin Peterson, Sheridan Neighborhood Association reported a new tent cluster going up along Broadway near the bridge over the river.   Inspector Loining promised a visit there and thanked her.

Shout out to U of MN  Men’s Hockey team!

Another resident had three Thank you’s to offer.   Their car was stolen a year ago, recovered and returned — thank you!    This year, someone took their catalytic converter.   CPS Ali showed up and offered suggestions  to achieve better security for their car and elsewhere.   He is thanked for both services.

Our CPS’s Juarez and Ali will be administratively transferred to the Dept. of Neighborhood and Community Relations.  As of 12/14, there was no word if that is going to be an administrative move or if it would result in a physical move also.  

Finally, Inspector Loining got a big Thank You from attenders, led by Jeff Meehan. 

Emilie Quast, Board member, 2-PAC

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