May Report, Part 2

COURTWATCH:    There were no proposed additions to the list from either Hennepin County Attorney’s office or Minneapolis Attorney’s Office.   Updates are noted below.  Apparently a number of hearings were pushed back a month. 


  • Joshua Poplawski was released from the workhouse on 10/30/19.  He had received multiple trespass citations from 11/7/19, mostly in the U of MN area and received a Trespass Violate citation on 2/4/20.  On 12/22/19 a business at 9XX Washington Ave. reported a new trespass; under Rule of 6 (probation violation) he was booked in HCJ; first appearance is 6/9/20
  • Miles Shaw was released from DOC on  4/27/20 and will be on parole to 9/25/20.
  • Michael Zaccardi, convicted on 4/4/20 for 3rd degree assault; on probation until 4/5/22; convicted of trespass, given 45 days, stayed, and on probation until 1/31/21.

Awaiting a hearing:

  • Richard  Breen – May, 2020: Richard Breen is out of custody and waiting for a Pretrial, scheduled for 6/17/20 (Restorative Court)
  • Tanner DeWitt: Convicted of Felony receiving stolen property  8/18/19; convicted of receiving stolen property on 9/26/19.  Dept of Correction,  release 9/8/20, probation to 2/5/21.
  • Kelli Durow (aka Tamera Hoveland) 39 city contacts since 2017, 38 in the Second Pct.  Habitual trespassing on or near U of MN.  “Rule 20 Return” for 8 charges. Further charge 4th degree assault.   Arraignment on 7/20/20 [SEE RULE 20 BELOW]
  • Samuel Haase has a hearing now on 6/2/20 for trespass, disorderly conduct, 5th degree assault, 4th degree damage to property, and other complaints.
  • Johnny Hall was discharged from probation 4/19, but charged with 5th degree drug poss. and DWI on 1/16/20 and has a pretrial on 5/18/20.
  • Daniel Heacock was recommitted on 2/4/20 and has a hearing on 8/11/20re: check forgery
  • Cody Horton has a review hearing (MHC) triggered by a misdemeanor tamper M/V. Hearing is now scheduled for 5/21/20.
  • Christian Klockeman is a repeat trespasser around U of M and has a Felony threat of violence charge 11/11/19.  He is now scheduled for 6/23/20.
  • Kirk Robledo is a frequent trespasser near the U of MN.  He was cited for  trespass on 10/2/19 and theft at Target Express in Dinkytown on 10/6/19.  Hearing on 6/23/20.
  • Leslie Wade received 3 trespass citations in the U of MN area; he has a pretrial on 6/9/20 after 2 hearings in Robbinsdale for Disorderly Conduct (5/14/20) and 4th degree damage to property (5/21/20)

Rule 20:  Per www.MNCourts.govRule 20 evaluations occur in criminal cases when there is a belief that a defendant may not be competent to proceed with the case or was not responsible at the time of the alleged offense because of mental illness or developmental disability.  

No Updates:

  • Tanner DeWitt: Convicted of Felony receiving stolen property  8/18/19; convicted of receiving stolen property on 9/26/19.  Dept of Correction,  release 9/8/20, probation to 2/5/21.
  • Paula Heile remains on probation until 7/12/21. No further updates.

Trends in the last 14 days remain unchanged.  Marcy-Holmes has the highest number of reported incidents in the Second Precinct and is the only bike theft hotspot.  

Additionally, Marcy-Holmes has the highest number of motor vehicle theft.  That includes theft from motor vehicles, theft of motor vehicle parts and theft of motor vehicles.    

University Avenue is apparently a corridor.  Crime is most concentrated in Marcy Holmes but follows University Avenue out of M-H and all the way out of the city.  The rate of incidents decreasing the further  you get from M-H and the further you get from University Avenue.
Prospect Park shares  M-V and bike theft incidents with Dinkytown, but has relatively more burglary as well.
We continue to see more charges against  Jory D. Wiebrand, the accused serial rapist who just been charged in a 10th case (Star Tribune, 5.13.20).   Thanks go to the people who identified him, brought him in, and are continuing to step forward in this case.   

May Report, part 1

Update and Planning Ahead

The Second Precinct Open House was cancelled this week, but we’re building plans for an exciting set of meetings, starting in June.
Did you know:  In 2019,  Minneapolis was ranked the top biking city in the U.S., for the second year running!!  Here’s how good we’ve got it:  the #2 city is Portland, Oregon — a warm weather town! [SEE ** BELOW]

Northeast resident Dan Miller (a.k.a. MplsBikerDan) has been leading bikers of every age to explore our city’s bike trails, and he’s been doing it for a long time.   I’ve spotted Dan leading a string of Pillsbury Elementary School kids down Como Avenue, leading a band of Edison High School kids across the U campus, and I’ve spotted him biking just about everywhere else I travel in town. 

On June 8, join our regular 2-PAC meeting.   We’ll be gathering remotely.   Dan Miller will present a ride briefing, covering the Great Northern Greenway and the 22nd Bike Blvd as avenues of discovery.  You’ll hear how Minneapolis earned it’s #1 ranking from someone who knows every part of our trails.
When people can safely share a group ride, Dan will lead a trek following the  Greenway and 22nd Bike Blvd.   We’re hoping to schedule that  later this summer when we find out what safe social distancing looks like then.  Contact me FFI

Stay well, and we’ll see each other soon!

Emilie Quast, Board member
MPD Second Precinct Advisory Council (2-PAC)
Minneapolis MN 55418

April report, Part 1

April 13, 2020 2-PAC report, Part 1: Together-Separately edition

While the rest of us do our part in containing Covid-19 by staying at home, our first responders are still out there, working to keep us safe.  Law enforcement officers, medical providers, and mental health and family development services are busier than ever in times of stress.   Among the agencies on call helping  people manage stress is Cornerstone. 

Jenna Strank, Communications and Development Coordinator of Cornerstone offered the following summary of services.

Founded in 1983, Cornerstone’s ultimate goal is to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and general crime. We believe that safe and stable futures are possible when we coordinate an effective crisis response, implement trauma-informed support services, mitigate the impact of violence on children and youth and confront the roots of violence. 

CORNERSTONE’S MISSION: Cornerstone’s continuum of service helps to create communities where individuals and families are safe and children thrive. We advocate, educate and lead the way to social change. 

In 2019, Cornerstone served 4,016 unduplicated individuals. An additional 30,001 calls, text, online chats and emails were placed to Cornerstone’s Day One® Call Center last year and over 12,000 students participated in presentations on unhealthy/healthy relationships, bullying, anger awareness and sexual harassment in school. 

CORNERSTONE offers a continuum of services:  

DAY ONE:  This statewide program is a crisis hotline that connects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and general crime to emergency safe housing and resources from over 90 agencies throughout Minnesota via phone, text or online chat messaging. It is staffed around the clock, seven days a week.

Minnesota Day One® Crisis Line:

Call: 1-866-223-1111

Text: 612-399-9995


Visit to chat online with an advocate.

STATEWIDE GENERAL CRIME VICTIM SUPPORT LINE is offered by Cornerstone through the Day One program.  Under Minnesota law, a crime victim is defined as a person who incurs loss or harm as a result of a crime. The support line is staffed around the clock, seven days a week, with advocates who can answer questions, provide support and offer referrals to necessary resources.

Minnesota Crime Victim Support Line:

Call: 1-866-385-2699

Text: 12-399-9977


Visit to chat online with an advocate.

Emergency Services:

Cornerstone offers a seamless continuum of safe emergency shelter and supportive services designed to meet the needs of victims fleeing from violence. Once in shelter, comprehensive programming helps victims rebuild their lives and restore hope. In 2019, 121 adults and 121 children received 11,365 nights of safe housing and 34,095 meals.

Individual and Group Support for Adults:

Individual appointments can be made to speak confidentially with an advocate about your situation. In addition, a variety of educational and support groups are also available.

Economic Empowerment Services for Adults:

Advocates are available to assist survivors with addressing economic barriers resulting from violence: housing de-stabilization, job readiness, credit/debt issues, financial literacy and safety needs. Services also include transitional housing and access to matched savings accounts for cars, homes or continued education.

Criminal and Civil Justice Intervention Services for Adults:

Advocates work with police departments to provide services when an incident of interpersonal violence occurs and can assist in pursuing protective orders. Advocates provide court accompaniment, safety planning and referrals. Advocates are available for support throughout the court processes, working toward victim safety and offender accountability.

General Crime Victim Services for Adults:

General crime services provides a full range of advocacy and crisis intervention for victims, families and community members affected by crime and violence. Examples of general crime include burglary, identity theft, homicide, robbery, fraud, auto theft and bias/hate crimes.

General Crime Victim Services Line: (612) 767-9844

Clinical Therapy Services Adults, Youth and Families:

Our therapy team utilizes a trauma-informed approach and will listen and support survivors in processing traumatic events and provide healthy coping skills to assist with the healing journey. Therapists are available to help deal with a range of issues, including anxiety, depression or disrupted family functioning. Services are offered on a sliding fee scale.

Youth Advocacy:

Youth advocates are available to meet with children, youth and their families to learn more about how violence impacts their social, emotional, physical and behavioral health – and to develop strategies to heal from any past traumatic events.

Support Groups, Classes and Workshops for Children and Youth:

Cornerstone also provides prevention and advocacy for sexually exploited or at-risk youth – providing a safe place to share their stories, receive support and explore resources. Young people participate in diverse out-of-school time activities such as peer education groups, recreational activities and leadership opportunities designed to promote positive development.

School-based Services:

Educators are in more than 20 schools in suburban Hennepin County, speaking with thousands of students each year and offering classroom education and individual support on the topics of dating violence, bullying, cyber-bullying, unhealthy anger/aggression, sexting, harassment and sexual violence.

Parenting and Early Childhood Services:

Parents are provided with a safe space to discuss strategies on parenting children ages birth-17 who have been exposed to adverse childhood experiences. Staff provide creative approaches to setting appropriate boundaries, building relationships and understanding the developmental needs of their children. Specialized activities are also available for children ages 0-5.

Cornerstone Locations:

Main Office (Southern Hennepin County)

1000 East 80th Street | Bloomington, MN

Office: (952) 884-0376 | Office Fax: (952) 884-2135

24-Hour Crisis Line: (952) 884-0330

Northern Hennepin County

7051 Brooklyn Boulevard | Brooklyn Center, MN

Office: (952) 884-0376 | 24-Hour Crisis Line: (952) 884-0330


2241 East 38th Street | 2249 East 38th Street | 1501 Xerxes Avenue North

Office: (952) 884-0376 | 24-Hour Crisis Line: (952) 884-0330

Jenna suggested that some people might want to view a video that highlights Cornerstone’s impact. 

April report, Part 2

COURTWATCH:    There were no proposed additions to the list from either Hennepin County Attorney’s office or Minneapolis Attorney’s Office.   Updates are noted below. 


  • Tanner DeWitt: Convicted of Felony receiving stolen property  8/18/19; convicted of receiving stolen property on 9/26/19.  Dept of Correction,  release 9/8/20, probation to 2/5/21.
  • Miles Shaw remains in the DOC through 4/27/20 and will be on parole to 9/25/20.
  • Michael Zaccardi, convicted on 4/4/20 for 3rd degree assault; on probation until 4/5/22

Awaiting a hearing:

  • Richard  Breen – April 2019, cited for trespassing and placed in special hold as he was unable to care for himself.  Convicted and on probation until 9/20.  Cited for trespassing on 9/19, waiting for pretrial (Restorative Court) on 4/22/20. 
  • Kelli Durow (aka Tamera Hoveland) 39 city contacts since 2017, 38 in the Second Pct.  Habitual trespassing on or near U of MN.  “05/12/2020 Rule 20 Return and 05/26/2020 Arraignment/Tracking date” for 8 charges. Further charge 4th degree assault.   Hearing on competency 5/12/20
  • Samuel Haase has a hearing on 5/11/20 for trespass, disorderly conduct, 5th degree assault, 4th degree damage to property, and other complaints.
  • Johnny Hall was discharged from probation 4/19, but charged with 5th degree drug poss. and DWI on 1/16/20 and has a pretrial on 5/18/20.
  • Daniel Heacock was recommitted on 2/4/20 and has a competency hearing on 8/11/20
  • Cody Horton has a review hearing on 4/23/20.
  • Christian Klockeman is a repeat trespasser around U of M and has a Felony threat of violence charge 11/11/19.  He has a hearing on 5/22/20
  • Joshua Poplawski was released from the workhouse on 10/30/19.  He received multiple trespass citations from 11/7/19, mostly in the U of MN area and received a Trespass Violate citation on 2/4/20.  Arraignment is scheduled for 5/20/20 and pretrial on 5/27.
  • Kirk Robledo is a frequent trespasser near the U of MN.  He was cited for  trespass on 10/2/19 and theft on 10/6/19.  Hearing on 6/23/20.
  • Leslie Wade received 3 trespass citations in the U of MN area; he has a pretrial on 6/9/20 after 2 hearings in Robbinsdale for Disorderly Conduct (5/14/20) and 4th degree damage to property (5/21/20)

No Updates:

  • Paula Heile remains on probation until 7/12/21. No further updates.

March Report, Part 1

The meeting was called to order at 6:15,  17 attending

MPRB Police Chief Jason Ohotto joined us to present an updated overview of Park Police responsibilities in the changing environment that is Minneapolis.  He last spoke to 2-PAC in June,  2016.  A lot has changed since then. 

Chief Ohotto has been in the MPRB Police for the last 24 years, the last 7 years as Chief.  He’s worked mostly in south Minneapolis, but now he’s actually a Second Precinct resident, so he’s one of “us”.

Briefly, the Minneapolis Parks system includes 180 parks covering more than 6800 acres. They are serviced by 49 full-service recreation centers (“the crown jewels”) and 55 miles of parkway.  The MPRB recorded  26.3 million visits in 2018 and was the site of 2000 permitted special events, most happening Thursday through Sunday, April through October.  About 400 of those events require direct policing:  Twin Cities Marathon and Pride each pull over 300,000 people,  Aquatennial events are huge and all over town, July 4 is a multiple location event. This is in addition to uncounted visits to the playgrounds, wading pools, homework help services, ice rinks, soccer, baseball fields and so much more.  In 2020 MPRB had a budget of $126.2 million. 

Since 1887, the Parks have had their own police force, rather than relying on MPD and UMPD to cover the territory.  This is in part because the Park Board is independent of city governance, which is a leading factor in making our park system the winner that it is.  Nine elected Park Board members are elected separately from the City Council.  The Park Board has the charge and the authority to acquire, maintain and develop the parks.  This has resulted in the creation of one of the very best parks systems in the country.  [EQ:  for a statistical comparison of  Mpls., St. Paul, and  the rest of the country:]

For one example of how the Twin Cities handle their parks differently, in 2008 recession, St. Paul closed some recreation centers; some were later privatized and leased off to NPO’s to operate.   Mpls did reduce hours, but never closed the recreation centers.  For this and other reasons, Mpls neighbors know our parks are the hearts of our neighborhoods.   Neighbors trust that their kids will be safe there after school, on weekends and all summer long, for preschool programs, organized sports programs, pickup games, and more.  Cities, just like people, act to protect what’s important to them.  If people had to rely on the MPD for concerns about parks, those calls would be important, but would have to be prioritized with all the other calls the MPD gets.  The Parks police have one highest priority: safety in the parks; for the Parks Police, a park call has the highest priority.

MPRB Police staff is very lean.  34 sworn police officers include Chief Ohotto, 2 Lieutenants (Patrol and Investigation), 6 Patrol Sergeants and 2 Investigative Sergeants, and 23 Police Officers (divided into 2 shifts 7A – 4P and 4P to 1A; between 1AM and 7AM, MPD takes any emergency calls).  There is 1 Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator working to make sure the Parks youth violence programs are in step with MPD and similar programs.  MPRB PD includes 15-25 Park Patrol Agents, similar to community service agents.  Most are aspiring police officers, retired police officers, or law enforcement students.  Patrol Agents are in grey uniforms, have limited ordinance enforcement, and have the same arrest powers as any other citizen.

Service averages over years 2016-2018 and limited to sworn officers:

  • 9192 calls for service (85% park related, and 15% emergencies outside the park)
  • 4680  recreation center stops
  • 2367 offense or incident reports

Budget  is shrinking:  2020 budget is $6.4 million – about 5% of the MPRB total budget.  This is down from $6.6 million in 2019,  resulting in one officer position and some programs getting cut.


Parks are generally safe places to be, and they are intentionally open spaces.  Parks draw people who are looking for peaceful, uncrowded natural surroundings.   Although parks comprise 18% of Minneapolis area, less than 2% of Part 1 violent crime occurs in the Parks.  Parks are also places where people can go if they have no other place to go.

Mental Health and Suicide –  Suicide has increased by over 50% in Minnesota over the last 20 years, rising from a complicated list of factors.  Also increasing is the number of non-fatal self-inflicted injuries that needed hospital-treatment.  While parks are not the dominant place of incidence, they are increasing there, as in other places.

Serious Aggravated Crime in the Parks –   Part 1 crimes (murder, aggravated assault, rape, robbery) — Chief Ohotto brought a chart summarizing Part 1 crime incidents in greater Minneapolis vs Minneapolis parks over 8 years.  [EQ:  contact me for a copy of  this chart]   Brief summary:  Minneapolis comprises 30565 acres not including parks @ 6811 acres.  The 8-year average of Part 1 crime in Greater Minneapolis =  4158 ~ 98%.  Parks = 88 crimes, just less than 2%  

Theft from motor vehicles is the most frequent report, and, like city-wide theft  from motor vehicles, is the most easily prevented if owners will just take their possessions with them.  Credit or debit cards stolen from the cars can be taken and used to the max before the owner gets back to the car and finds they are missing.  This is a very organized operation:  the crooks use spotters to avoid detection.  The spotter reports what he sees.  Then a second person comes up, breaks in and is on his way in under a minute. The credit cards may be used in half an hour — before you get back from your jogging, your meeting, or from picking up your child.   

Addiction and Substance Abuse:  Park police began carrying Narcan in late 2018, reporting 7 successful interventions since then.  2019 saw 1 OD death, but the number is probably higher because cause of death is often “undetermined”.

Homelessness:  As homelessness is on the rise across the country, our parks see more and more of this also.  According to the Wilder Foundation, in 2019, the Park Police documented 127 camps, usually involving single adults or couples.  Contributing factors include a lack of affordable housing and shelter beds, but also include mental illness, drug and alcohol  addiction, all of which are interconnected.

Chief Ohotto shared the frustration officers face when a call comes in because someone has passed out or is living in a park.  The cause is likely based in a mental health problem.  Mental health is not and should not be a primary policing function.   There is a failure in our community to provide the resources necessary  to combat the trends Chief Ohotto is describing.  Officers can not provide shelter.   They can’t provide the special medical care that people need to manage their condition.

This impacts the livability of our city.   You’ve seen the statistics that prove our parks are safe —  there are fewer than 100 serious violent crimes over a whole year, but he still hears from residents who are afraid to go to their neighborhood parks because they see people who are drunk, on drugs, having a mental health episode.  This has a direct impact on the livability of our city. 


RESPONSE TIME:   MPS EMTs, MFD, and Park Police share  911 communications, which is why 15% of Park calls for service are not in parks (Parks officers were closest to the incident 15% of the time).  If it’s a reported medical emergency, EMT or Fire personnel are likely to get there first.  Dealing with crisis response: Parks police are familiar with the Police Co-responder Program, and access that program through the local Precinct.

MISSION: There is also a difference in long term missions:  Park Police work closely with recreation staff with a goal of spotting issues while they are still amenable to redirection.  It’s important to understand that, in contrast to city services which provides police, fire and EMT response, the Park Police does not exist to provide general public safety services.  Everything we do is focused on parks and recreation programs and to support those services. 

COVERAGE:  Our park system has grown tremendously in the last 20 years.  We have begun adding more land every year and there are more people living in the city  (50,000 more people are now living downtown that weren’t  there before).  Add to that, we now have more programs and special events.  We’re now responsible for serving the Commons Park adjacent to the stadium.  We have more land in the southwest sectors.  The more we add to the park system, but don’t add to the public safety resources, the more our service levels are diluted.

Officers in squads used to be able to give pretty even coverage or our large parks area.  We can’t do that anymore.  The demands of downtown are so great that we have to push more of our effort to the downtown area.  The Eastside (2nd Precinct) has lost the most service time, because the  Eastside has the lowest number of calls from the parks.  We’re not getting resource levels to maintain service levels that we enjoyed in the past.   

PARK POLICE AND THE SCHOOLS:  We no longer supply school officers, but our officers know what’s going  on because the juveniles who need attention are in both the schools and in the parks.   Park Police funnel what they know into the MPD information chain so everyone has it.  The Parks Police division partners with colleagues in the Parks Recreation Division with an initiative called Straight Reach.  This program has trained  youth workers who collaborate with us on intervention strategies, behavior issues.  We bring  these Straight Reach workers to all our special programs. They are the first ones to contact when there is disruptive behavior or fighting.  We went from having issues at Pride, and July 4 on the River, to having no issues last year.  It’s an effective program. 

HOW DO YOU PLAN FOR BIG EVENTS?  Practice and stable administration:  it’s the same people planning the programs year to year and building on what they have learned.  We’ve hosted the Final Four, Super Bowls and other very big events; we’ve had a lot of practice.  Planning in Minneapolis also responds to events that happen elsewhere, like the Boston Marathon bombing.  We talk about it and plan to prevent it.

We do L.A. programs on an Omaha budget.  Think about it: the entire state of Minnesota has 10,000 to 10,500 officers.   The city of Chicago, alone, has 20,000 officers.    [EQ:  Efficiency!]

March Report, Part 2

The meeting was called to order at 6:15.  17 attenders

MPRB Police Chief Jason Ohotto, brought us up to date.  He last spoke at 2PAC in 2016.  His presentation is summarized in Part 1 of this report.

COURTWATCH:  Nnamdi Okoronkwo, Mpls City Attorney presented. 

  • Richard Breen –  On April 2, he was placed on a health and welfare hold as he is unable to care for himself; so far, he is doing OK and has a Restorative Court pretrial on April 22.
  • Tanner Dewitt is in custody  HCJ, review hearing scheduled March 25.
  • Kelli Durow (aka Tamera Hoveland) has 7 new trespass complaints at the U of MN, this year alone.  Her arraignment was scheduled for March 18.  A lot of her  charges get dismissed because she is unable to participate in her own defense
  • Samuel Haase is in HCJ.  He has a hearing on April 14,  felony trespass.
  • Johnny Hall was scheduled to be discharged from probation on  4.4.19.   He has a new (1.16.20) charge of 5th degree drug possession, pretrial is 4.21.20.
  • Daniel Heacock was recommitted on 2.4.20 and has a review hearing on 8.11.20
  • Paula Heille graduated from Chemical Treatment Court on March 9!
  • Cody Horton remains on probation through 11.19.21 and had a review hearing on 3.12.20
  • Christian Klockeman had a hearing on 2.10.20 for Veterans’ Court but failed to appear.  Active bench warrant.
  • Joshua Poplawski  has been deemed competent to participate in his defense and his cases are going ahead.  He is in Homes Court to obtain housing.
  • Kirk Robledo is back in custody in Washington County.
  • Miles Shaw is in custody of the Dept of Corrections – his release date is 4.27.20.
  • Leslie Wade has a pretrial on 4.2.20 for his third trespass on U of MN property.
  • Michael Zaccardi  remains on probation until 1.31.21 for misdemeanor trespass.
  • Spencer Hermes remains on probation until 5.23.22 but (per his parole officer)  is unlikely to reoffend and is dropped from our watch list.  His 5th degree drug possession was his only police contact in the city since 1995.

STATE OF THE PRECINCT:  Officer  Nelson reported that theft from cars is still rising.  This is  from parking on the street, or restaurant or similar parking lots.   When the criminals see “something”, like a bundle or a bag,  break into the car and take it.  Clothes or a laptop, they will take it and find out what they’ve got later. 

Another issue is rising theft of catalytic converters.   If you hear a saw sound late at night, call immediately.  Rashid received a couple of calls that people had heard a saw sound late at night and didn’t know what to do about it.  The answer is call 911 immediately!  This theft can be a one or two person team:  they know what they are doing and they are very quick. QUESTION:  don’t the metal recycling people notice and report this?  ANSWER: it’s about the same deal as pawn shops.

Attempted abductions in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood.   There have been three incidents;  the victims have worked with sketch artists and seem to be similar features on all three sketches.  Officer Nelson assured us we have a senior  detective working on this and he is very good.  The Second Precinct is in the information pipeline.  There are extra patrols in the area for this and for the catalytic converters.  [EQ : the sketches appeared in the Star Tribune on March 13.  Check here:

Reminder:  OPEN HOUSE AT THE PRECINCT Monday May 11, 4-7PM.  Food off the grill, sides, beverage and dessert with sit down eating, Patrol Horses, K-9s, Bike Cops for Kids with drawing for give-away  bikes, the mobile command center and a lot more.  It’s rain or shine, and they have canopy shelter if it rains.     Join us!

Emilie Quast, Board member

February Report, part 1

The meeting was called to order at 6:17;  20 attenders.

Our speaker was Judge Lisa Janzen, Fourth Judicial District.  After several years as an assistant public defender in the 7th and 1st districts and managing attorney in the 1st District Public Defender’s Office, Judge Janzen was appointed to the bench in June of 2016 by Governor Mark Dayton.  After 3 years handling felony cases, she requested a rotation into treatment courts because she had a background working in treatment courts as a public defender.  Her assignment to Hennepin County Mental Health Court began in January 2020.  She also presides in Veterans Court. 

The  Minnesota Judicial Branch supports Treatment Courts throughout the state.  Hennepin County currently has 4 treatment courts within the criminal court system,  Adult Drug Court,  DWI court,  Adult Mental Health court and Veterans Court.  Judge Janzen  explained that Treatment Courts began approximately 20 years ago and are now in place in courts throughout the country.  The practices of treatment courts are based on an approach in criminal justice called “Evidence Based Practices.  In other words,  the practices of the courts and probation are based on an extensive body of research throughout the criminal justice system which concludes that treatment courts lower the recidivism rate.  Treatment courts are an alternative to incarceration in prison or jail; research shows there is a substantial cost savings to the criminal justice system when a defendant is successful in treatment court.    All treatment courts are now expected to apply what is termed, Best Practices.   Treatment Courts in Minnesota are overseen by State Court Administration.

Note:  when treatment courts are started up in a county, it is an extra court — an addition to the normal court load.  Frequently treatment courts apply for grants from the Department of Justice and other agencies to assist with costs.   The Minnesota Legislature also allocates funds specifically to treatment courts in its budget to the Judicial Branch.   In smaller counties, a treatment court may be scheduled for perhaps an afternoon each week, managed by one judge.  Hennepin County now has a large enough program to have two full time judges assigned to Treatment Court.

A Treatment Court is

  • A voluntary program — that is,  the defendant is admitting the charge against them and looking for help and support to change their behavior;  the defendant must voluntarily agree to abide by the terms of a treatment  court,
  • An alternative to the normal progress of a criminal case,
  • Offered to defendants who are at high risk to reoffend and have high needs such as chemical dependency, serious and persistent mental illness and may also             need assistance finding housing and getting other social services in place.
  • A collaboration among many professionals:  the courts, probation officers, social services, the county attorney and the public defenders offices.
  • A program that holds the offender to strict, intensive probation standards and holds them accountable for missteps. 

Hennepin County offers four treatment courts for adults: 

  • Mental Health Court is a court-supervised treatment program for adults who have committed felonies or misdemeanors AND have been diagnosed  with a serious and persistent mental illness,  Traumatic Brain Injury, or who have significant cognitive impairment.
  • Veterans Court serves veterans charged with a criminal offense and works in tandem with services being offered by the VA or Veterans Centers.
  • Drug Court is for people with adult felony level drug violations who are at high risk to reoffend.
  • DWI Court handles repeat driving under the influence offenders who need extra support to remain sober and crime-free. 


  •    Promote stability in the participant’s life, and to
  •    Facilitate access to services and resources, which should lead to further goals:
    •    Reduce recidivism,
    •    Reduce hospitalization,
    •    Increase compliance with probation,  and all of those goals likely will lead to
    •    Reduce jail sentences (jail can be in conflict with their need for support)

Who can participate (specific to Mental Health Court):  Adults with felony or misdemeanor charges, who are  diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI), traumatic brain injury or substantial cognitive impairment. The SPMI  may include a major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder.  This must be diagnosed by mental health professionals.

·         Who can’t participate:            

  •   Persons guilty of  criminal sexual conduct or registered as a  Level 3 registered sex offender.
  •   Persons on supervised release or parole from the Dept of Corrections.
  •   Persons who are NOT residents of Hennepin or Ramsey Counties; this is a transportation issue, not a residence issue.
  •   Additionally, the County Attorney can veto a person’s admission to Mental Health Court, after conference with law enforcement and others.

People who want admission to any treatment court in Hennepin County go through a screening process.  The screening team includes probation officers and licensed social workers.  Each applicant is evaluated for risk and needs level based on court and medical/mental health records.  The screening team ultimately advises whether a defendant meets the criteria for treatment court and recommends which treatment court would be the best fit.

Participation in a treatment court involves a much higher level of probation supervision and many more requirements than routine criminal probation.  So why would a defendant chose to participate?  If they complete the MHC program, they have done a lot of hard work and have made measurable progress.  Thus, they are likely to get a more favorable plea offer such as a downward departure from sentencing, including no jail time served.  Their charge may be reduced from a felony.  If their charge is a misdemeanor they may get  a stay of adjudication which ultimately results in a dismissal of charges.

How is success defined by the court?  The participant remains law abiding, maintains complete sobriety,  takes medications as prescribed, complies with their individualized care plan, obtains stable housing (many are homeless), obtains employment or enters an education program or a social community program or activities.  The time span is expected to be 12 to 18 months unless there is a relapse, which resets the procedure, starting with a new treatment plan, with closer oversight by the probation officer.  

Progress is monitored frequently in the beginning of the program with frequent court appearances and meetings with probation officers, who may mandate frequent and random urinalysis and/or chemical dependency treatment, and may require attendance at meetings like AA or NA.  Research shows that being held accountable, not just by the probation officer but also by the judge, is an effective way to ensure compliance.  With that level of contact, if a person misses an appointment, a U.A. or another requirement, the Probation Officer knows right away. 

Each participant has an individual care plan, agreed upon by mental health professionals, probation officers and other experienced, credentialed people.  The plan may include taking medications as prescribed, keeping appointments with mental health providers, participating in cognitive behavior programs where people learn how to make better decisions.  Participants may be required to live in supportive housing, if, for example, their usual home is also the residence of someone who has a detrimental lifestyle.  Some people may qualify to live in a group home.  Some may qualify to live in an intensive residential treatment home.

Mental Health Court programs are completed in 3 phases.  A participant can advance to a higher phase only after meeting the requirements of the prior.  The participant receives a “Phase Completion Certificate” which is awarded in court with applause and congratulations from the judge who monitors their progress through the process.  Incentives for staying in the program through all three phases include praise from the judge and probation officer, fewer court appearances and probation officer meetings, fewer urinalysis tests, fewer travel restrictions. 

On completion of all three phases, a participant must file a Graduation Petition.  If it is approved, the participant is presented with a diploma at a special hearing at which the participant and all team members may speak, talking about how much has been achieved. It’s not unusual for the participant to speak to others in the room who are still working to complete a phase — the members support each other and listen to each other.  After Graduation, a felony-level participant is placed on Administrative Probation, which is unsupervised probation (BUT the probation officer does a criminal check every six months, until the probation period runs out.  If a violation appears on the record, it  would restart the program.)

If someone messes up, the likely sanctions include written assignments or reports, an increase in the number of court appearances, probation meetings and or urinalysis tests.  A participant may be  required to do community work service or a “Sentence to Service” requirement (where you work for the county).  Alcohol monitoring or electronic home monitoring may be imposed, with a curfew.  Incarceration is a last resort because it impacts other areas, like holding a job, participating in treatment or counseling, losing contact with children, and more.  Some participants may need to return to jail to be held until a place can be found in an in-patient facility.  At worst, the participant will be terminated from treatment court and the original sentence will be imposed. 

The Statistics (as of April, 2019) -908  people have participated since January 1, 2013.  The current numbers (January ’20) are Felony=147 and Misdemeanor=24.

Graduation rates:  Mental Health Court  about 50%; DWI=80%; Drug Court = 56%; Veterans Court = 52%

Mental Health Court demographics:

                        Felony-   African American=54%; Caucasian=35%; Native American=6%; Multi-racial/other=4%; Asian=0%

                        Misdemeanor-  African American=33%; Caucasian=38%; Native American=13%;  Multi-racial/other=8%; Asian=4%

          Gender distribution – Felony-  Male=76%; Female=24%.  Misdemeanor- Male=58%; Female=42%

QUESTIONS from attenders –  

1) How does this differ from Civil Commitment?  ANSWER – In order to begin a civil commitment, a medical professional, a psychiatrist or psychologist must say they are a danger to  themselves or others, “right  now”.  A lot of the people in Mental Health Court do not meet this criteria.  It is possible that people in MHC are also in civil commitment.  The court processes are completely separate.

2) If people want to observe these courts  they are open court.  Monday morning is Veterans Court, felony Mental Health Court is on Tuesday and Thursday morning, misdemeanors are Wednesday morning.

3) What are Special Courts recidivism rates vs general court?  ANSWER – We don’t have stats for Hennepin County right now.  On the national level, Special Courts recidivism rates are  25 to 30% less than for general courts.

4) How do you get sober housing?  ANSWER –  If a person qualifies for chemical dependency treatment,  part of their funded treatment plan may include residing in a Sober Home after completion of primary treatment.  This housing would be put in place and approved by a county social services Case manager.  Other housing options might include a Group Home or an Intensive Residential Facility.  Whether a defendant is able to reside in these housing options depends on whether they meet certain criteria determined by the Department of Human Services and their county Case Manager.

5) Is there adequate staffing to keep up with MHC treatments? ANSWER –  The amount of support, resources available in Hennepin County is incredible.  Of course it would be beneficial to have additional probation officers, social workers and case workers, but looking around the country, we are fortunate to have the level of resources dedicated to treatment courts in Hennepin County and incredibly talented, dedicated and hard-working professionals helping M.H.C. participants.

6) What happens if a judge can’t make a court day (if they’re on vacation or need a medical out day).  ANSWER – There is a certain amount of money available for retired judges to come in for a day.  One retired judge used to preside in Drug Court and he comes in frequently. 

7) What is missing from the system to improve MHC?  ANSWER – We need more housing and treatment facilities for people.  There are not enough group homes or intensive residential treatment centers.  There are not enough crisis beds. For people who fall through the cracks — are not at the commitment level —  there are not enough services available for their level of need.  People may have to wait two months to see their psychiatrist to get their meds.  

That is not the courts’ issue; that is social services and the mental health system resource issue.  Some progress is being made.  For example, one facility in Minneapolis was only a detoxification center in the past.  It’s now an emergency mental health center, with crisis beds and walk-in mental health assistance.  It is an alternative to jail for law enforcement to bring someone they find in a mental health crisis.  Also, if they know about it, people can walk in and ask for help.   There are social workers, mental health and medical professionals on staff, crisis beds and medication services available.  This is at 1800 Chicago Ave.  

EQ – FFI  Special Courts are available in many Minnesota counties.  For a brief outline of state-wide special services available click here: