April report: Building safe neighborhoods — Walking Groups

The meeting was called to order at 6:36 PM, 10 attenders.

Speaker: Nicholas Juarez, Asst. Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the U of MN Dept. of Public Safety and former Crime Prevention Specialist with the MPD 2nd Precinct.

Building meaningful connections in your community is a prime strategy for neighborhood crime prevention.   One way to do this is by taking a walk.  Neighborhood walks by small groups of people can do a lot.

In the past neighborhood walks have been associated with block clubs, schedules, t-shirts and more.  It’s often better to keep them simple and fun.


Walking your dog(s)
Getting your steps in
Taking a stroll with your friends on a beautiful day or evening.

In “Concrete jungle”, Clay Martin lays out walking groups as a strategy.   Per Green Beret training: Small groups enter a city or village to make connections and win friends there.

In your neighborhood, some of the people you meet are people you know.   As you’re walking, put a smile on your face, and nod to the people you meet.  This makes connections.    Then you will have neighbors watching out for each other..

What do you look for?  Learn what’s happening in your area:  bike theft? car theft?  property theft?  robbery?   How was this was done: cut a bike lock? test locks on doors, windows? break a window?

When does this happen?

If you spot a suspect: Were they alone? What were  they wearing?  Height, build, skin color, hair style or color?
Body Language:  Were they fidgeting? What is their body posture?
Were they looking  into windows, into backyards, or just at their friends?
Are they cutting through yards or checking doors?
Anxious Behavior —  If you’re able to talk with them, do you see:   Rapid eye glances or constant “nervous” movement?
How do they react to sudden sounds?

How do they react to people? chatting with friends?  trying to avoid contact?

Aggression detection:  Per the American Psychological Assn., 90% of all aggressive incidents are predicted by anger.

Additional Safety Resources*
Call or text 911.  When you report, use words, not emojis.  Be very detailed and descriptive about what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling. Use all of your senses to explain why you are concerned.
Call or text 311.   Use this for road hazards, sidewalk hazards, Lights out,  street hazards, property that has tall grass or weeds, overgrown shrubbery, broken windows or other broken glass.   Is there a street sign or stop sign knocked down?  All of these will be added to a log for repair, even if there isn’t enough staff for an immediate response.

Being a good neighbor: Pick up trash; it increases the livability of your neighborhood.
Remove small graffiti with MFD wipes.  Call 311 if it’s bigger.
Do your neighbors seem to need a hand?  2nd Pct. residents can get help from Eastside Neighborhood Services, free to low cost.

Possibly the most important guideline is:

Be Aware of Your Surroundings.  Know what’s going on around you.

Contact @umnpublicsafety  or sign up for safety bulletins.
QQ: How are students responding to safety guidelines?
Answer:  We had two walks last fall and students are using services like 624-WALK escort service.  BUT,  when some are out, they’re on their phone or listening to something.
EQ: I wish 624-WALK would state how territory is covered.  No-one is stranded by 4-WALK.  Tiny URL: https://tinyurl.com/5ccu2d3x  Also, when someone wants escort from one red line area to another, they’ll be given a ride.
COMMENT:  SE Como Neighborhood has two on-going neighborhood-building  safety events:   Long ago a neighbor on 19th Ave started a Sunday afternoon walk south of Como.   This has continued.
The second asset is a man at 18th Ave & East Henn.  He spends hours cleaning up litter in his area.
COMMENT: This month, people reported someone testing car doors in the Student Co-op lot.   They called 911 but the suspect had left when the squad came by.  The next morning two cars raced out of this parking lot followed by a squad car. That lot is well lit and has security cameras all over.
Nick:  There is more theft from parking lots than from ramps. Lots do not have controlled access.    We’re pushing the club again.  It slows thieves down enough to be a very useful protective item.
Lt. Nelson:   Drones can’t be used for general surveillance.

* [EQ: A printable 3-fold is part of Dept. of Homeland Security  “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. See  tiny url https://tinyurl.com/4tskt493.  And from Mpls: https://tinyurl.com/2dk779n4 ]


NIBRS  CRIME METRICS         2023    2022
Assaults                                         63        67
    Incl. Domestic Ag. Assault           4         5
Burglary, B&E                                 14       26
Property damage, vandalism          77       60
Homicide, non-negligent                   0         0
Homicide, negligent                          0         0
Larceny Theft                                138     196
M.V. Theft                                      174      40
Robbery                                           11      18
     Incl. carjacking                             4        9
Sex offenses                                     4        4
Stolen Prop. offenses                        2       5
Weapon law violations                      4        5
Shots fired calls                               15     36
Gunshot  wound victims                    0       0

We have two new people joining us:
Dillon Gherma is with the University Dept. of Public Safety, as a Community Liaison after four years in Community Engagement for the UCSO.   He is very welcome!

Sandra Filardo has a new role in the HCAO.   We wish her well and thank her for her contributions.

Sarah Haglund will now be the sole HCAO attender.   It’s good we’ll be seeing more of Sarah in the future.
From Sarah:  The HCAO Community Engagement is now under Community Affairs which will also include Restorative Justice, Outreach, and more.   She will share more information as it develops.

Emilie: still looking for reps from across the 2nd Precinct.  Progress:  Waite Park now has a delegate to 2-PAC.

Story from the Star Tribune about trick drivers doing donuts on public streets:  https://tinyurl.com/5b9uv2de

Lt. Nelson: Driving donuts on public streets:  Promoters call people to a site to do their stunts.   Drivers steer so close they can high-five with the crowd.   If they lose control of the car, it will hit people.

The new ruling requires  Law Enforcement to follow the promoters.  Not hard: the events are on social media.

There has to be a balance.   It’s NOT wrong to set up an event; citizens are allowed to congregate. But when you have 16 Dodge Chargers doing laps at an intersection, you are seeing dangerous behavior.  

Inspector McGinty has requested the city return the steel plates that don’t let drivers do donuts.   At a meeting, someone pointed out that the city is peppered with potholes.   No one is going to put their $95K Charger through tricks on a street like  that.

Sarah Haglund (HCAO) explained caselaw.   Courts have to establish precedent, that is, to have more than a few cases that are in line with an attorney’s interpretation of the law in question.   Challenges and interpretations of a law, argued and won in court, are the foundation of future judgments.

QQ: How do public forums, like NextDoor, impact law enforcement?
CPS Ali:  It’s a mixed bag.   Sometimes we get reports from people who have access to City Watch or the 2nd Pct Crime Watch [online groups that monitor police scanners].   Some people exaggerate the reports they get from those sources, but those reports are NOT data.
Haglund: It’s notoriously difficult to get actual data from those groups.  Facebook will just deny your request.   Others insist on a subpoena and proof of need.

Att. Okoronkwo:  It’s a provability issue.  People  will report something based on ideas that can’t be documented.

Video recording of this meeting:

Emilie Quast, Member
MPD Second Precinct Advisory Council (2-PAC)

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