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Sept.2-PAC Report, Part 1: The C.E.T. – Outreach with Ice Cream!

The meeting was called to order at 6:15 by Emilie Quast.  19 attenders
2-PAC has a new parole officer!  Welcome Holly Ihrke, Hennepin County Probation Officer assigned to the 2nd Precinct.*

Our speaker is Sgt. Jose Gomez.  Sgt. Gomez has been in the MPD for 25 years.  He started at the 2nd Precinct in 1995.  4 years later he moved to Narcotics and Gang Investigations where he worked for 15 years.  After a promotion, he became a street supervisor, and then went to Internal Affairs (investigating other officers) — a very difficult job.  It was, however, the assignment that led to the Community Engagement Team — clearly, a job he enjoys.

Sgt Gomez leads the Community Engagement Team to meet its assigned missions: 

  • To work to build trust and strong relationships with the  many ethnic communities in Minneapolis.  
  • To help with more complex cases such as those in which there is a language barrier.
  • To be available to community members who want to offer information they don’t want to share with regular officers or investigators.

Additional stated missions include presenting at citizen academies, community lectures and focus groups; offering training programs (dealing with violent extremism); recruiting youth to join the Police Activities League and the Police Explorers Program; assisting recruitment officers to attract candidates who will reflect Minneapolis culture. 

The CET’s primary function is to build trust with the community.  We’re all aware that our city is multi-cultural.  The CET has officers who are familiar with certain cultures, who can meet people and talk with them, including Native American, Latinex, SE Asian, African-American, East African, LGBTQ (the only civilian). There is a youth engagement officer, and an officer who understands the needs of the MPHA (public housing) community and who works with people who have mental health needs.  Officers do get moved out as they are needed on the street to answer high priority calls.  They don’t always get replaced right away.  Other will shift in to see if the CET is a good fit for them.

When a block or a neighborhood is the scene of a trauma, it’s the CET’s mission to show up (probably in the ice cream truck), engage and assure the kids that the MPD cares a lot about them.  Then they go door knocking and start talking to the adults in the surrounding homes.  At most stops, they get a variety of responses, ranging from people who are very worried about the incident to people who actually didn’t hear about it.  Either way, the purpose is to start talking with people, be open to conversations, offer facts to combat rumor, and to make friends.

The Community Engagement Team offers a number of regular events.
The most frequent is the Bike Cops for Kids weekly report that shows up Thursday mornings on email feeds, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  The BCFK report shows about a dozen new pictures of the Bike Cop team, taken that week, all around the city, handing out  ice cream and freezies in hot weather, winter gloves at school bus stops on cold mornings, basketballs, footballs (and now: soccer balls) and bike helmets any place they are needed.  This program is funded by donations of goods from Children’s Hospitals, grocery stores, and a lot of other organizations and individuals around the city. (Fact: even the ice cream truck was donated.)  It’s a constant good will presence in Minneapolis, year around.  Information about signing up to get this report is at the bottom of this page.  

Parks Programs: The CET throws a BBQ in the Parks at 3 or 4 locations around town every year.  The partner in this event is the St. Paul Police Foundation, thanks to members of the Campion family.  They get other MPD teams like the K-9s, the bomb squad truck, and other teams to add to the show.

Take Back the Parks:  officers discovered that people in some neighborhoods, day care places were afraid to walk their children across the street and into the park for recess because gang bangers had started hanging out there.  When the CET heard about this, they started just showing up just one random day a week.  When they did that, the gang bangers just dispersed and the officers could play with the kids as long as needed. 

The CET signs up to serve dinners at House of Charity once a week, just working the service line until everyone has food, and then staying to talk to people.  As they got to know people, they realized that some had chronic  issues like addiction, mental health issues or other problems.  When something goes wrong, the team has the background to offer a positive response.  There is a special care clinic across the street.  If the problem seems to need it, and if the person agrees, the CET can walk the person across the street and help them get the care they need. 

Other occasional events include “Chat with the Chief” (Chief Arradondo at various small businesses across town), visits to the Ronald McDonald House once a month, and more. 

They’ve created a “See Something, Say Something” and presented it to over 15,000 people at events.

About twice a month, 5 of the  team travel down to the Red Wing Youth Correctional Facility.  The population of this place is about 80% from Hennepin County, and most of those are from Minneapolis.  Youth who enter this program start at level 1, as they meet expectations, they move up.  When they’ve reached level 5, they are almost ready to move out; those are the boys the team focuses on. 

Too many of these boys have no  home or (if they have a home) no support at home, no extended family, no mentoring adult in their lives, and no way of figuring out a plan for their future.  Being alone makes you vulnerable, so many of these boys turn or turn back to gangs for support.  That choice is likely to get them back in Red Wing, which has a high recidivism statistic (72%!)  The CET offers to be  a positive resource for them.  The officers get to know the boys personally before they are released.  Every boy knows how to contact a member of the team.  If they call, the officers will meet, offer lunch, just talk, find solutions to their problems, maybe help them find a job, try to help them keep their focus on creating a future. 

Chief Arradono and the MPD has gathered department-wide resources under an umbrella called Procedural Justice.  The CET is part of this drive, and so can more quickly move boys into programs they can use.  [EQ: More information at]  
[EQ:  To follow this team,  send an email to “Sergeant Gomez” – – OR  “Officer Mike”  –  –  and they’ll add you to the mailing list of your choice: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email.    OR,  you can follow the  BCFK story on the MPD page:   or the Facebook site

*This is Ms Ihrke’s correct title — a previous report named a different one — EQ

Emilie Quast, board memberMPD Second Precinct PACMinneapolis MN 55418


Sept 2-PAC, part 2: Mental Health Court; Moped, Bike and personal property theft.

The meeting was called to order at 6:15 by Emilie Quast.  19 attenders
2-PAC has a new parole officer!  Welcome Holly Ihrke, Case Management Assistant  from the Hennepin Country Parole Office.
Our speaker was Sgt. Jose Gomez from the Minneapolis Police Dept. Community Engagement Team.  Report of his speech is Part 1 of this monthly report. 

COURTWATCH:  Sandra Filardo, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office gave our updates.
New additions to Courtwatch:  Kirk Robledo, is in custody in Ramsey County Jail; latest two offenses were in July of this year on or near U of MN campus; bench warrant issued for failure to appear in August; several hearings scheduled in Sept. — from there he will be shuttled to Hennepin County.   Miles Shaw is also in custody in Ramsey County Jail; 3 incidents on or near U of MN campus and has a bench warrant for failure to appear in August. 

UPDATES: Jonell Butler was found guilty and remains in custody, expected release 10/29/29, followed by probation until 5/8/35.  Daniel Heacock was re-committed on 7/19/19 and has a new hearing on 1/14/20.  Paula Heille failed to appear and has an active bench warrant. Cody Horton  was scheduled for a Mental Health hearing in mid-September, after our meeting; he is in treatment. 

NO UPDATES:  Samuel Haase was released to treatment on 7/3 and will remain on probation until 4/4/22.  Johnny Hall was discharged from probation 4/4/19. Spencer Hermes remains on probation until 5/23/22.  Joshua Poplawski is in the workhouse until 10/30/19.  James Zaccardi will remain on probation until 5/24/18 and appears to be doing well getting the help he needs through Mental Health Court.  Michael Zaccardi will remain on probation until 4/5/22, and is doing well.

Remove:  Jonell Butler.

Atty Filardo explained how referrals to Mental Health Court works.  If family or others are concern that someone is going to hurt himself or someone else and contacts the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, that will start the process.  This might be officers taking someone having a psychotic episode to the hospital or it might be a family member/friend/neighbor expressing concern.  The person may already have a conservator.  If a person shows up at a hospital, and the staff request an evaluation, that will start the same process.  It is a difficult issue but the office is seeing it more and more because more people understand the importance of getting family members the help they need and deserve.  We don’t just write the person off; we want them to become healthy people.  If people want to learn more, contact her and she will send the information to the person in the office who specializes in this work.  Civil commitments:  we can have a program on that if people want to learn more.

Emilie Quast explained a new procedure for adding people to the Courtwatch list.  Unless something changes, Elizabeth Clark from the City Attorney’s Office will comb the monthly arrest list looking for candidates who meet our profiles.  Elizabeth and Emilie will add the people we agree should be followed.  Others are welcome to join us (email communication) and comments are wanted from others.  Attenders voted by voice to continue this procedure until further notice. 
NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT:   Emilie Quast reported that the Latin Kings (gang) had tagged two alleys and put one tag on Tuttle School building.  CPS Juarez confirmed that it was the Latin Kings and that MPS removed the tag on the building while the city and homeowners took care of the other tags.  These tags appeared on the same night that saw an uptick in crime.  MPD increased patrols n the area and there has been no further activity.   The principal of the school (and others) are watching to see if the taggers appear to contact any of the kids in the school.  Additionally, the n’hood organization, SECIA, is looking for grants to support increased lighting and (perhaps) security camera subsidiestie

PRECINCT REPORT:  Sgt. Nelson reported that the Second Precinct is experiencing the annual rise in crime when students return to campus:  bikes stolen, mopeds stolen, theft from motor vehicles and burglaries of dwelling.  Cars, apartments, bikes and mopeds are often left unlocked.  Marcy Holmes saw a brief rise in assaults, which seems to have abated by this report.   

The MPD draft on September 17 will include 29 officers; it’s expected the 2nd Precinct will get 5 of them. 

Emilie Quast, Board MemberMPD Second Precinct PACMineapolis MN 55418

August 2-PAC: Home Inspections and Fire Safety

The meeting was called to order at 6:20, 14 attenders.
Our speaker was Fire Inspector Robert Sayers.  Inspector Sayers worked 17 years for the Minneapolis Fire Dept., and then moved to Regulatory Services  and became a Fire Inspector.
His 4-person team does fire inspections for 4-plexes and larger, and for mixed use properties. Hazard inspectors take care of SFD, duplexes and triplexes.  They are currently trying to figure out Air B&Bs  — right now  the regulations behind AB&Bs are loose.  They looked at other cities and saw some models that worked and some that didn’t work well.  Minneapolis is trying to get it right the first time.
Most of the attenders at PAC were homeowners, so Inspector Sayers spoke about  “what he doesn’t want to see” in SFDs.
To begin, most home fires start as clothes dryer fires in flexible dryer venting.  Flexible venting is not approved for use in Minneapolis, even though it is for sale in big box stores and elsewhere.  Stores  are not required to tell you about the city regulation.  If flexible vent is what you have, replace it with a rigid venting, either aluminum or steel.  Dryer fires usually start in lint backup in the venting, whether the dryer is gas or electric.  The flex vents possibly trap more lint because of the pleats that make the tube flexible, vs the smooth metal vents.  More important is that thin metal will contain the fire fpr a while, but the flex vent will melt/burn through quickly allowing the fire will spread much sooner.
We  have some homes in the city that he classifies as “clutter homes”.  This is also dangerous but for  different reasons.  They are dangerous to the fire fighters who must enter a smoky, low vision place and don’t know the layout of the space.  Where are the paths? What or who is behind the piles?  The “stuff” will prevent fire fighters from saving lives.  Tightly packed, mixed fuel fires are also extremely complicated to put out.
There are different levels of clutter:  some hold actual garbage that hasn’t been taken out.  Some owners don’t let their animals out to relieve themselves.  Some owners are just not  capable of taking care of the issue due to physical, social or emotional problems that haven’t been addressed.  Even if this is not a health hazard to the homeowner, too much stuff packed in a small space makes it very difficult to knock down a fire.  If the situation is due to a psychological problem, after  owner, friends and family get the house cleared out, the clutter will accumulate again unless the psychological issues are dealt with.
Home safety involves other issues that need thinking about.  Disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs is one many people don’t think of.   Cleaning up and disposing of the  very fine shards of glass is difficult. Also, these bulbs contain mercury, which is more of  a hazard.   Because of the mercury, these bulbs shouldn’t go in the trash.  Many hardware stores will take  them in for you.  Battery storage is also important, especially 9V batteries, which will start to heat up if a screwdriver or another piece of metal spans the two terminals.
Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed  and maintained carefully.    If you have all electric appliances you probably don’t have anything to worry about because they don’t emit carbon monoxide.  If you have gas appliances, however, you need to get those CO detectors installed in the area of those appliances.    Smoke detectors need to be within 10 feet of bedrooms.
Another thing homeowners are concerned about is water damage.  This can ruin surfaces, but it also can start mold to form in your home.  The city doesn’t have equipment to test mold to find out what it is.  Instead, inspectors look for situations that will cause water intrusion and cause mold to develop.  “Water damaged surfaces” is the term they use.
[EQ: Article on moisture/mold testing by a certified home inspector, posted in the S’Trib ( )
Electrical issues.There is still a lot of knob and tube wiring in the city, and it’s probably OK until someone taps into it.  If someone updates a portion of the wiring but doesn’t replace all of the line, there will be issues.  Plus, knob and tube wiring is old — some of it maybe 100  years old.  When it gets moved around  the insulation can crumble and fall apart.   Old appliances  can be  another electrical hazard.  Old space heaters weren’t made with automatic shutoffs.  If they fall over, they keep working and can start a fire.  That brings up smoke detectors again, if they are 10 years old, replace them.
Bonfires/recreational fires.  The city ordinance is what it is and isn’t perfect.   It states that you must burn raw wood.  You don’t want to burn furniture lumber or treated wood because they give off toxic gases.  The ordinance []  states that a fire must be 25′ from a flammable structure, including wood fencing.  For Inspector Sayers,  the issue is that,  based on the distance rules cited in the city ordinance, most homes have no legal place to have a recreational fire.   Our city lots, are small, typically 55-60′ wide and not that deep.  on that basis alone, over 90% of the houses in Mpls don’t have a legal place for a fire.  Homes with firepits probably won’t have a problem.  While a backyard bonfire could spread to a nearby garage, Mr. Sayers believes that garage fires are more likely to be the result of arson, not recreational fires, but that doesn’t change the ordinance language.  Be aware that the MFD does not drive around the city looking for recreational fires.  Most of the calls they get are from neighbors who are bothered by the smoke.  If he sees metal from a piece of furniture, knows the neighbors probably have a reason to complain.
Renters’ Rights:  Because the buildings he inspects are 4-plexes or larger, Inspector Sayers talks to a lot of renters and finds himself talking about “Renter’s Rights”.    Minneapolis has a lot of good landlords but his team deals with the ones who are actually predatory.  They will take advantage of their renters and they take up much of his time.
[EQ   Renters rights:  The MNAttorney General has a PDF pamphlet that covers rights at     University students have two additional resources, the Office for off-campus living  (   and  Student Legal services (  ]
The question came up:  when do you inspect?  Until about a year ago, Mr. Sayers was one of only two Inspectors who only dealt with complaint driven inspections.  Most of those came from  renters.  An inspector does not have to let a landlord know they are coming in, if it’s the renter who is filed the complaint.  The renter can give inspectors permission to enter, and the permission of the owner is not needed.
Rental properties are ranked for fire inspection services into three tiers.  property on Tier 1 is on a seven year cycle: they may be newer; they have no history of issues or complaints.  We know that a lot can change in 7 years, so there may be some properties out there that are not in that good shape today, but the last time they were inspected, they were assigned to Tier 1.    Tier 2 is  looked at every 3 to 5 years.  Our Tier 3 properties are those that have had issues; they are inspected annually.  The hope is that if the owner knows Inspections is coming back on an annual basis, they’ll clean up their act (property)   Because of the annual inspection, it’s possible there are Tier 3 properties that are actually in better shape than some Tier 1s.
We have between 15 and 20 fire  inspectors in the city.  Of those, there are four who deal with complaints (his team); the others are doing routine inspections so the owners know we’re coming.  The tenants also know inspectors are coming  because if they’re not gong to be home, the landlord  must get a permit signed by the renter,  allowing inspection.
If you have other questions or complaints, dial 311. out of  612 area code, dial  612.673. 3000.  The numbers are on our fridge magnets. [EQ: I have some of these magnets and safety pamphlets to distribute].
Question:  how did the Frenz situation develop?  From an inspector’s standpoint, Stephen Frenz bought 40 badly maintained properties from one of the worst landlords in the city, Spiros Zorbalas.  Zorbalas lost his rental licenses and was not supposed to have any further interest in any rental property.  When Frenz’ tenants kept reporting violations, investigators discovered that the properties were, in fact,  jointly held by both Frenz and Zorbalas.   The 40 properties had changed ownership on less than $1000 payment to Zorbalas.  Retaliation against tenants also continued: inspections would act on a tenant’s complaint and  soon those tenants were no longer living there.   Frenz is now down to 5 properties and that is still in litigation.
EQ:  I have a stash of information, yours for the asking.  1) 311 refrigerator magnets.  2) City of Mpls info sheets: Smoke Alarms and CO detectors; Citations: Payments and appeals; Special assessments: payments and  appeals; Homeowners’ Resource lists, with special numbers for Vets, Seniors, Energy Assistance contacts, Home repair contacts, and alot more.  3) From the Nat’l Fire Protection Assn.:  Cooking fore safety; Carbon Monoxide alarms; Ways to keep your family safe from fire.  Contact me at and I’ll get your request to you.  (hint:  That Homeowners Resource list is a gold mine.)

August 2-PAC: Part 2: Courtwatch and Precinct report

COURTWATCH:  Sandra Filardo, HCAO and Nnamdi Okoronkwo MplsAO, presented:
Jonell Butler pled guilty to 3 1st degree agg robberies and 1 agg. assault; sentencing on August 19, and the attorneys expect 199 months (over 16 years) of which he will serve 11 years.  Samuel Hasse was released to a treatment center on July 3, and remains there; conditions of probation are to complete treatment plus standard felony probation conditions; he will be on probation until 4/4/22.**  Daniel Heacock went to mental health court  in July and was recommitted on 7-19; next hearing is 01/14/20.
No updates:  Johnny Hall, on probation.  Spencer Hermes remains on probation to 05/23/22.  Cody Horton remains on probation until 11/19/21.  Joshua Poplawski remains in the workhouse until 10/30/19.  James Zaccardi remains on probation  until 02/24/21 and is doing well in Drug Court.  Michael Zaccardi remains on probation until 04/05/22.
News:  Paula Heille violated probation and is now on bench warrant status.
**Samuel Hasse is regularly in the business districts of Marcy-Holmes; people are starting to discuss how to restrict him after he gets out of treatment.  Geographic restrictions have gotten harder to obtain and are difficult to enforce — discussion is on-going.
Mental Health Court:  Both attorneys find the level of supervision in “treatment” court beneficial.  The case worker can actually keep closer contact with his clients with random calls, weekly check-ins.  Being assigned to Mental Health Court requires agreement from both parties: the prosecutors and the defendant’s team.  Not everyone is willing to accept that level of supervision or standard of compliance.  If they have some persistent mental health diagnosis,  such as  TBI, that will be taken into account when working out the treatment plan.
REPORT ON THE PRECINCT:  Inspector Loining presenting:  Our main problems remain property crimes: burglary, theft, auto theft, theft from motor vehicle, and similar  remain our top issues.  The MN Daily and Northeaster will be publishing stories on preventing these common crimes as new students arrive for Fall Semester.
In the time between mid -July and early August, the 2nd Precinct received reports of robbery of person, a car-jacking at gunpoint (500 block of 2nd SE), arrest was made  with subjects charged,  Auto theft includes mopeds which are all over the University area and we’ll be sending tips there.  Bike theft also remains high.  We’re please to report that an officer made a traffic stop on August 2, and it was a stolen vehicle — the subject was arrested and charged.  A similar stop last week was a stolen moped which was recovered and the subject charged and sent to jail.
We had two burglary of businesses the first week of August, and these were from construction sites; it’s easier for people to get into these sites since there are no alarms.  One fellow just squeezed between two chain locked gates and scaled his way up the crane to the crow’s nest at the top.  Officers couldn’t get them charged for burglary but did get a trespass charge filed.  These sites are attractive to people who plan to steel copper  and other construction materials (and it’s likely the crane climber thought it was an exciting thing to do.)  The two thefts from construction sites, officers were able to get identification and one person arrested.
Shots fired, two incidents: the first was on the 1100 block of Summer Street, no one hit.  The second was in Logan Park, people not from NE came to have a party, no one got hurt but the people didn’t seem cooperative.  More patrols are scheduled for that area. in the.
We had a sexual assault 700 block of 4th St. SE, at 3AM.  The victim was able to fight him off and he took off running.  A description went out to residents and university staff.
Two robberies of persons, the first on the  3600  Central Avenue block,  and the second, by the same person, recovered a gun and another up on Tyler by the same suspect.
Finally a party house  800 block 26th Ave. NE, last year this house was known for the most overdoses in the city.  The other house is on 3200 of Garfield party house, bonfires, alleged dope dealing; we’ve had two search warrants issued for that house in the past year.  The guy recently went to jail for aggravated domestic assault. Neighbor complaints first brought this house to the Precinct attention.
9/3 is the next  police academy recruit draft.  Inspector Loining asked for 6 new officers for the 2nd.
Schools are starting: public school on Sept 3 and the U of M opens a few days earlier. We’ll be offering coffee and more in a couple of places to U of Mn Students to welcome them back.
QUESTION:  Package thefts in the neighborhood.  Loining:  package thefts are not just a 2nd pct problem and it’s not just UPS or FedEx or any other carrier.  It’s all across the country.  And that picks up as the holiday season opens.  We’ve just gotten one case that has good ID; often when we find one person, the total number of thefts goes way down.  One person can be the source of a lot of trouble.
The next 2nd Pct Spotlight newsletter will be published in Sept.  You’ll want to sign up for it.

July 2-PAC report: Part 2

Our speaker, Lt. Mario Ruberto, is in the Metro-Transit Police Dept. His presentation was summarized in Part 1 of this report

COURTWATCH: Sandra Filardo, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, presented updates: NATALIE BOX was convicted of 1st degree agg. robbery and 1st degree assault. She is in DOC w/ scheduled release on 2/7/23, parole until 4/8/25. JONELL BUTLER has a jury trial scheduled for 7/22 on 1st d agg-rob and 1st d. assault. SAMUEL HASSE has a 7/22 hearing for disorderly conduct; at a 7/2 hearing he was released to treatment on 7/3; he is being held for 8/14 hearing for other hearings in Ramsey and Dakota counties. JOHNNY HALL is meeting probation guidelines and remains on probation until 9/17/20. DANIEL HEACOCK had a hearing on 7/9/19. PAULA HEILLE remains on probation until 7/12/21 and is meeting probation rules. SPENCER HERMES was expected to be released on 7/26 to find a job; is on Electronic Home Monitoring. CODY HORTON had a review hearing on 7.18/19. MAHAD ISMAIL is on probation to 7/29/19. JOSHUA POPLAWSKI will be in the workhouse until 10/20/19 and will be on probation to 8/27/20 after his release. JAMES ZACCARDI is in mental health court but is on probation until 5/24/21 and seems to be doing well. MICHAEL ZACCARDI is on probation until 4/5/22, standard felony probation conditions apply. Natalie Box, Paula Heille, Mahad Ismael were removed from the list.

MENTAL HEALTH COURT AND DRUG COURTS:  Ms. Filardo:  If people are accepted into these courts, they receive treatment and resources that are intended to return them to good mental health. This is a compassionate, problem-solving response instead of punishment. This process is treated as a continuing case: they always see the same judge and the same prosecutor. Many people who go through these courts get the support they need from the program; we know because they do not violate again.

PRECINCT REPORT: Officer Christie Nelson reported that the predictable “summer” crimes are happening. Theft from garage is one you can prevent. When people are mowing their lawns, they do not lock the garage, probably because they’ll be so close. If you have a power mower, you won’t hear someone in your garage, and if they wait until you are on the other side of the house, you won’t see them, either. Similarly, if you’re working in the yard, lock your house. Remember that windows can have security stops that stop the window from being opened more than 6″ (too little for an adult to come in). The cost is under $3 per window: sash or sliding windows, about the same price. When the weather is nice, then there are more people out on the sidewalks or just walking around around the clock: keep tempting items in your house, not in the back seat of your car. We have extra patrols around the 500 block of Buchanan, in response to activity there.

Emilie Quast, Board Member  — MPD Second Precinct Advisory Council  — Minneapolis MN 55418

July 2-PAC: Transit Police

There was no meeting in April (event) or May (2nd Pct Open House).  June meeting was a feedback session.

July2-PAC:  Issue: People using the Transit System for shelter.  Lt. Mario Ruberto, presenter.

The meeting was called to order at 6:15; 16 people attending.
The Metro Transit Police are charged with policing issues specific to our transit system.  Along with aiding the Police Departments in 7 counties served by Metro Transit, this public service has taken on a special  area of service that has been getting a lot of press and media coverage lately.  The Metro Transit  Police is developing an outreach program to and for homeless residents in our area.  MTC Homeless Outreach and its focus team, the Homeless Action Team were described by Lt. Mario Ruberto, CSO,  our speaker.
Lt. Ruberto was a Hennepin County paramedic for twenty years  and switched to Transit Police 12+ years ago. About that time, there was an increase in homeless people taking shelter in the Transit system.  Those people would be trespassed, need shelter and come back in, be arrested. This was a cycle.  Lt. Ruberto asked if there were any tracking statistics, and  was asked to create them.  With training and experience as a paramedic, he  soon realized many of the people being arrested were actually in crisis, possibly dealing with mental illness, substance abuse, chronic health problems — issues he’d been trained to recognize as an EMT.  Any one of these issues can lead to homelessness and repeated police contact.  But the people who were being cycled through the system had no access to help, no way to stop the cycle. Many repeaters had more than one of those issues to handle and about 11% actually had all three.
Compounding the problem, despite having little or no medical training, first line responders had to decide where to take these people:  jail, hospital,  and detox were the only options.   People riding for shelter can’t stay on transit property or the MTPolice will just be called about them again.  During one winter, transit dealt with 362 individuals, most of them over and over again. Numbers of incidents are rising:  in 2015 Police received 1273 calls;  in 2018, that number was 2770.
Former MTPD Chief Harrington expected people receiving promotions to take on one “POP” project, (Problem Oriented Policing).  Lt. Ruberto chose to create a homeless outreach program that would decriminialize homelessness and address some of the problems he observed during field training.
When police do respond to complaints and take people in, the city is responsible for a other issues.  Items having little or no cash value are very important to the people who have little else.  The police must inventory the non-perishable belongings and return them to their owners when they are released.  A class action suit in Fresno about this issue cost the city $2.35 Million in damages.  Honolulu was sued over its trespass statue for being too broad; our MTC operated under a similar trespass law.  Is it right that one trespass notice effectively bans people from the only means of transportation they have?  Additionally, there is no realistic way to enforce that notice over all transit properties in 7 counties.  The current approach is to issue a geographic restriction (i.e. The Greenline or Rte #22) which limits the boundaries but is not enforceable, either.


The “Bermuda Triangle” is a name for MSP’s largest homeless camp.  The trains from Union Depot (St. Paul) to Target Field (Mpls) to the MOA and back to Union Depot form a triangle.  These trains are shelter for at least 180-275 people every night, depending on the weather.  The 2018-19  winter was colder and the number of riders rose to 350 people.  Those numbers make the Transit system the 2nd largest shelter for homeless in Hennepin County, second only to Salvation Army shelters.  When the Super Bowl committee charged the MOA and MPS skyways to clean up for the game week, they did by closing access, forcing more people into the Transit system.  Some homeless shelters routinely fill up long before everyone has a shelter, so the shelters give the folks they must turn away bus tokens so they’ll have a warm place to be.  When this happens, the Transit system count goes up by another 50 or more people.
There are many safety issues that rise from “transit as shelters”:  staff safety, passenger safety, safety for the people who are homeless.  Some people who ride transit at night who actually have safe shelter; they ride because they are predators.

Met Council Internal Solutions in progress:   The Met Transit PD has formed a special team, the Homeless Action Team (HAT).  The team consists of 4 officers and 2 sergeants and 2 CSOs (Community Service Officers).

HAT’s protocols and strategies are based on evolving best practices research.  HAT focuses on BOTH customer service complaints AND on community concerns about health and safety.
HAT Team training includes special training topics:   1) Crisis Intervention and de-escalation techniques; 2) Outreach worker certification; 3)  Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) assessor training; 4) Trauma-informed interviewing; 5) Understanding addiction (includes Narcan training); 6)  Building community trust.  The program and all training are based on one tenet:  Arrest is not a solution.  (EQ: For more info about HMIS: )
The HAT team  works from 10PM to 8AM, Sunday night through the Thursday AM rush hour.  Because social workers/social services don’t work overnight, the HAT team members approach the people who appear to need intervention, do an assessment to determine what a person’s primary needs are, set up the initial steps for an intake, and then hand the client off to the most appropriate social service agency when those offices open. The HAT team does track individuals, because if HAT can prove that a person has been unsheltered for three nights, they can issue a voucher that will get this person into a safe place.  The team is also trained to aggregate data in the Homeless Management Information System.  The HMIS database is confidential and used to determine how homeless populations are served across the U.S.  It is a data sort, not a diagnostic application.
Lt. Rubertos and his team are planning the next steps for HAT internal development.  HAT wants to:   1) Hire additional case workers to do the serious work of getting people to stable situations;  2) Establish an internship program for master’s level college students who need intern hours to complete their degree in social work; these people will do initial case assessments under supervision;  3) Review and strengthen the HAT Code of Conduct policies and post them;  4) Examine the use of the all-day Transit pass: is it being used as intended or not? 5) Create education plans for transit employees, transit PD, and for all riders.
What makes it difficult:  Homeless transit riders have many barriers to stable housing, including mental health issues, criminal history, poor housing rental history.  Another barrier HAT discovered that people who are in the system could be assigned to multiple services, a needlessly confusing waste of effort and money.  HAT is  moving people to single stream services (same services, better delivery) During the brief time that the Met Council has had an integrated approach, more than 30 families have been housed and another 36 referrals are in process.  One person is in charge of coordination, and the service teams meet regularly to work out solutions.
Externally: HAT is developing a housing partnership.  The Met Council was awarded 89 housing vouchers by HUD.  These vouchers provide financial help to transit riders who are homeless and who have disabilities.   The vouchers pay some 70% of housing costs, and the recipient  pays the rest. [Question: some people with vouchers still can’t find housing!  Answer: People may have issues that make conventional housing hard for them to find.  HAT is looking for unconventional housing solutions.]  We have to accept that there are some people who do choose to be on the street:  some are not yet able to handle independent living; some shelters have no place for married couples; many shelters won’t admit people with dogs even though the dogs are  stabilizers for people. These would need some of the “unconventional solutions”.
Short term solution improvements:  “Winter Safe Space” shelter in St. Paul is open November through May.  Established shelters close intake at 8PM because they also have a limited amount of space.  Winter Safe Space is open from 10PM to 9AM, offering 62 beds at a cost of $400,000 divided between Ramsey County, St. Paul, and philanthropic partners.  (something about Metro Mobility buses)  HAT has 25 reserved beds in that place and is hoping to reserve some beds on the Minneapolis side, as well.
Frequent Faces (pilot program) is starting to coalesce.  The vision is a partnership among various agencies like Catholic Charities, the East Metro Crisis Alliance, SPPD, SPFD and others.  The current vision:  Identify the top 30 resources users.  These folks, who use the Green Line trains as a shelter, have been reported on 740 contacts, resulting in 197 citations, 148 bookings, 249 EMS transports to ERs over the last 12 months!   Clearly the social and dollar costs are enormous.    The FF program will use the “safe-haven model” to offer social, legal and medical services to these 30 individuals diverting them from emergency rooms and jail, to find long term solutions so they can leave the cycle.  So far this has been presented to Health Partners and Regions Hospital, looking to develop a project model.
Coming soon:  HAT will roll out its first Mobile Assessment Vehicle (MAV) the first week in August.  This is a mini-bus that is packed with electronics and other gear: computer access to department records, printers, and more at two workstations (one for police and one for social workers).   With diagnostic equipment and an exam table on board, the team will be able to do field exams and assessments, replace lost IDs, and a great deal more to move  people quickly  to a safe solution.
Summary:  This is an ongoing challenge.  The situation we have now is the result of society pushing people out of sight, rather than working together to create solutions that benefit all of us.

One of our attenders contacted Lt. Ruberto after the meeting, reporting that an acquaintance  feels apprehensive riding the bus late at night.  Lt Ruberto replied replied in part:  Most overnight issues are on light rail because bus drivers can call the police and pull over if that’s needed.  Generally, violators run off if they know the police have been called.  If  a crime was committed, Transit Police pull the video and send pictures to MPD, SPPD and Transit PD.  Sometimes they have an ID just minutes later and the target can be  picked up.    Additionally, there is a transit app, Text For Safety, that sends a message to dispatch immediately from your Smartphone.  MTPD will respond, pull the video, or assign a cop ride-along if the situation calls for that. Check here:

March 2-PAC Report, Part 2

Our speaker this month was City Councilman Steve Fletcher who outlined the steps taken so far to keep late night in the North Loop entertainment area safe and fun. See Part 1 of this month’s 2-PAC report.

COURTWATCH: Natalie Box remains in custody ($300K bail); jury trial is scheduled for 4/29 considering two charges of 1st Degree Agg.-Robery and 1 1st degree assault in Marcy-Holmes, Holland and Logan Park. Jonell Butler is charged on the same reports as Box and will also be having a jury trial on the same day, same lead prosecuting attorney.

Samuel Haase is now in custody after a bench warrant was issued on 2-26 for failure to appear. His hearing was on 3/8, and he’s next scheduled to appear on 4/4. He was originally charged on 5 complaints, all in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood.

Daniel Heacock is waiting for a 5/14 hearing to determine his competency for trial.

Spencer Hermes will plead guilty on a 5th degree drug possession on 4/2.

Cody Horton had a probation violation warrant issued 3/1. He is supposed to be following conditions imposed by Mental Health Court.

Joshua Poplawski had a 2/06 review hearing in the 3rd Precinct and a 2/27 pretrial in the 1st Pct. he was convicted of a Possession of drug paraphernalia on Marcy-Holmes on 2/27 and will be on probation to 8/27/20.

Michael Zaccardi was charged with 3rd degree assault in Windom Park, and will receive sentencing on 4/5.

Maxim Chance remains on probation to 4/18 and is meeting terms of probation. Johnny Hall will be on probation until 9/17/20 and his probation officer has no concerns at this time. Paula Heile remains on probation through 7/12/21 and is meeting the terms of probation. Mahad Ismail is meeting his probation which will expire on 7/29. Robert Schroeder remains on probation to 3/20. James Zaccardi is doing well in Mental Health Court and had a review hearing on 3/12.

PRECINCT REPORT: Property reports have been quiet and calm: There was one garage burglary on between February 26 and March 11, (cold weather factor, maybe?).

There was a robbery at the Quarry T-Mobile store. All three suspects are in custody. One was traced to St. Paul where he tried to get away but slipped on the ice. (He’s now in the hospital with a broken bone.) None of the three has been charged as of 3/11.

The suspects in the case at 3300 Pierce Street, reported last month, have been charged.