Category Archives: Uncategorized

March report, Part 1

Cody Hoerning and Andrew Norton, Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA), presented a neighborhood proposal for increasing neighborhood social cohesiveness.   Strong neighborhoods are best able  to respond to neighbors in need.

Members of SECIA have been rethinking SECIA’s role as a community organization, as a neighborhood organization and as a platform to promote  cohesiveness in the community.

Conversations began over several years at various community gatherings like National Night Out.    Neighbors and elected officials shared ideas about how people can expand the sense of community that we feel on NNO and other neighborhood-wide events.   In 2020, after the death of George Floyd, protests turned into riots, and neighborhood conversations about public safety and other issues became intentional. 

In October 2020, people began brainstorming about how this could come together.  They brought their ideas to “New Projects Night”, an event where SECIA members present proposals to develop proposals and gauge interest.   In breakout meetings they discussed the logistics of moving this forward. 

Identifying  Issues and Challenges: Neighbors in Need

  • Lack of social connection
  • Mental health issues
  • Unsheltered neighbors (homelessness)

Lack of social connection:  In Como, residents are increasingly concerned about lack of connectivity.  This is more apparent in SE Como than in other parts of the city  because of the high numbers of student neighbors, who intentionally leave at graduation when they find a career job. 

But this is a national trend.   In his book “The Upswing” Robert Putnam defined “Social Solidarity” as an aggregate of trust, sharing, caring, donating  and joining that communities share.   From 1880 to 2020, indicators of social solidarity started low, peaked 1955-1965, and then fell faster than it had risen.   In 2020, American solidarity had fallen to the 1910 level.    Not surprisingly, the “Lack of Social Connection” chart has almost a negative correlation to the first chart over the same time span.  The second data set was derived by charting so-called Deaths of Despair, deaths associated with depression, alcohol use, other substance abuse.  On the right side of the chart, you see a sharp rise in deaths attributed to cocaine (and similar) use (2000 and on)  and Covid-19 in 2020.

The group identified some issues that SE Como has  with the traditional block club model.   The highly transient student population has been mentioned.   Additionally, people’s comments could be summarized as “I don’t watch my neighbors, I just see them”.     People reported they feel safe if they perceive a connected community and they feel safer on “active streets”.  Van Cleve Park is perceived as a safe place because of everything that’s going on there. 

For background, data reported by the National Institutes of Mental Health,  the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in 2017 that at least 432,161 adults in Minnesota experienced serious psychological distress in the 12 months surveyed. This included 256,729 with serious psychological distress, 119,807 with bipolar disorder, and 12,836 with schizophrenia. Some people have multiple diagnosis;  additionally, there is overlap with people who are homeless and who engage in substance abuse.  All of these issues were adversely affected by the pandemic;  the 2020 statistics are certainly higher. 

Growing concerns:   In Minnesota, between 1991 and 2018, a one-night count of  homeless people rose from 3,079 to 11,371, statewide.
[EQ: in 2017, Minnesota’s population was 5.6 million people; SE Como’s population was about 6000 people.   Projecting the numbers, 4.6% of MN residents displayed serious psychological distress.   0.2% were homeless.   Those counts are pre-Covid-19.  Undoubtedly more people are in distress in 2020-21.]

IDENTIFYING ISSUES AND CHALLENGES:  NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION

  • SECIA does not really have a safety group.  
  • Many crimes in SE Como are preventable, following recommended practices. Cody worked with CPS Nick Juarez sharing after-incident prevention strategies.
  • Victims of crime reported that they received little follow up, restitution, or justice:
    •    MPD data indicate that about 1 in 3 violent crimes are cleared.
    •    MPD data indicate that 1 in 2 homicides are  cleared.  

[EQ:  A crime report is “cleared” when investigation leads to a charge.] 

What can a Neighborhood Organization Role Be?  Assuming the Neighborhood Organization  has developed a cohesive social structure, it can assist:
Pre-crime:  The association can help with prevention by coaching awareness of safety strategies, and the importance of watching out for each other.   It can consider if a welfare strategy might be needed.   
Crime event: handled by police.
Post-crime:  The association can offer support and improve safety strategies if there is recurrence.
There is evidence that support does matter, even in extreme situations.

Homelessness:  A 2013 report in the American Journal of Public Health, “Effectiveness of case management for homeless persons”, by Renee de Vet,  (v. 103:10, 13-26)  indicated that case management to prevent recurrent homelessness in people with severe mental health illness after leaving hospitals or other shelters led to a  60% reduction of homelessness. 

Gun Violence:  Advance Peace and similar programs identify and then surround a small number of people with intensive customized support  found that after a two-year program, all “A-P Zones” reported a 22% reduction in gun assaults and homicides.  El Paso Heights AP Zone reported a 39% and the Oak Park AP Zone reported a 21% reduction.
Social Determinants of Health:  These are conditions that occur in the environments in which people are born, live, and age, that affect health, functioning, and  quality-of-life outcomes and risks.  They include economic stability, education, social and community context, health and health care, neighborhood or built environment.   Como Cares believes it can work in two primary areas:

  • Neighborhood or built environment, including  access to healthy foods, crime and violence, environmental conditions, quality of housing.
  • Social and community context, including civic participation, discrimination, incarceration, social cohesion.  

SECIA has already done a lot to improve social and community context.   We offer the annual Como Cookout, gardening opportunities (native prairie, pollinator protection, vegetable gardens in SE COMO), participation in SE Seniors (an age-in-place volunteer organization that assists SE Minneapolis residents), Community Good Neighbor Fund (which supports music, art and dance events), community projects and town halls with elected leaders, coordination with the MPD Second Precinct Crime Prevention Specialist, an active Zoning and Development Committee, pollution and groundwater protection committees, and activism through Como Green Village.   The new Como Cares approach will continue to bolster these efforts.

Summing up: 
Our current approach in SE Como to organizing and public safety  is not working for a variety of reasons.

  • Community members feel safe when they have a network of support and are connected with neighbors.
  • Mutual-aid networks and events/projects to build community connectedness were popular in discussions.
  • We now have more neighbors who need help with mental health and shelter.

Actions to date and on-going:

  • Neighborhood and Community Relations meetings on safety
    • Team members have attended city meetings about safety
  • Activist and outreach worker meetings
    • Team members have attended meetings and presentations by organizations like LINC  MPD150, Coaching Boys Into Men
    • Coordinated with organizations which already help unsheltered neighbors in Mpls.  [listed below]
  • Distribution of food and hygiene kits
    • Supported and organized a local neighbor drop in day

Some of the organizations the Como Cares team is currently collaborating with include U of MN Off Campus Living, University Baptist Church, University Lutheran Church of Hope, SECIA, First Congregational Church — United Church of Christ, The Aliveness Project (future date for harm reduction training)


COMO CARES — CURRENT GOALS  

1.  Reach out to long-time and new neighbors to let them know they are a part of a caring community.  
Some long term residents may not have as many   connections as they would like.  We want to also reach out to short term residents, like students, and try to bring them into the conversation.

2. Care for neighborhood community assets and resources. 
This can range from sharing food and other resources, doing trash cleanups, making sure the street lights are on, finding resources to help with property repair. 

3. Provide neighbors in need with direct community support through a network of block/neighborhood communityassistance programs.

4. Bring a community-centric and racial justice approach to public safety and reduce calls for service from the police department.a. As we build healthy social structures, provide support for neighbors, we could reduce police presence in the area.
 b. This is taking the MPD150 idea to a neighborhood level.   [For information about MDP150, see https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=MPD150]

LEVELS OF ENGAGEMENT

Entry Level – Be a part of a caring community.  Build organic social cohesion on your block. Stay connected to neighbors.
Time commitment = low

Example: take a walk with a neighbor.

Event-Level – Respond when available and when help is needed locally for specific events

Time commitment = low

Example: shovel your neighbor’s walk if they need help with it.
Project- level – Support for specific longer-term projects
Time commitment = moderate

Example: Weekly park activities with local teens.

Team level – Participating in long-term care initiatives

Time commitment = high

Example:  Supporting unsheltered neighbors through regularly-scheduled drop-in days
Leader level – Communicating with neighbors, understanding hyperlocal needs and coordinating response
Time commitment = very high

Example: Neighbor communicates need after kitchen fire, works with team on response, facilitates response.


OTHER ENGAGEMENT OPTIONS:  Some individuals are unable to give their time due to commitments.  Other ways to support include:
Donations of goods to people in need.

Administrative and communication support.

Monetary donations.


COMMUNICATIONS: How will we communicate with neighbors?

  • Personal verbal communication:
    • Say “Hi!” when you see someone
  • Written communication:
    • E-mail
    • Write for E-Comotion and Tidbits
    • NextDoor
  • Social media
    • Groupme, messenger, discord, Facebook….
  • Assemble and deliver welcome packets to new neighbors
  • Apartment buildings:  we need ideas for outreach into apartment buildings. 

Como Cares needs ideas for recognition gear.  
How will people recognize us as a team   (suggestions:  t-shirts, vests?)
[EQ: Jeremiah Peterson’s Safety Walk teams had bright red vests to ID walk members.   Those vests disappeared several years ago.    Maybe someone with institutional memory can recall who paid for them.]

TRAINING – What types of training should we offer Como Cares team members?
First Aid

Mental Health

First Aid Anti-ViolenceAnti-Racism

Conflict resolution

Narcan training 
Harm reduction 101

Your suggestions??

Como Cares, current and future projects:In Progress Now:

  • Building team and networking
  • Training
  • Drop-in days for unsheltered neighbors
  • Hygiene and  food kit delivery to those in need

A story about the successful first Drop-In Day, a Como Cares event, appeared in the MN Daily newspaper:     https://mndaily.com/266140/news/dinkytown-organizations-offer-haircuts-and-more-to-unsheltered-neighbors/
Continuing projects:

Caring for public utilities (gardens, street lights, litter pick up)
More social cohesion events and New social cohesion events.   Offer your ideas here

SE Como mutual aid  network  in development:
Mental health and trauma-support events

What Questions do you have?   Send them to Emilie to forward to Andrew and Cody.   We’ll get the answers to you.
QQ  Do you have any funding for this?    Answer: We have written two grants, one to the Good Neighbor Fund supported by the U of MN, and one to AARP which offers a challenge grant.   The first Drop-In Day brought donations of skills and time (hair cuts) as well as supplies, clothing, food.The city has opened up some anti-violence funding.
QQ  Have you contacted Hennepin County about your project.   AA: Good idea!  Please suggest people to contact.
QQ  An attender remarked she had gotten a lot of help from Commissioner Irene Fernando and recommended meeting with her.  Would you be interested in presenting to another n’hood?   Answer:   Yes, eventually.   We’re only about 5 months in so far.  

QQ Next drop in days?   Answer:   We’re going to try to rotate locations.   We have a need for showers, which University Baptist may  be able to offer so that will be a place.   U of MN and the Parks have Covid-19 restrictions right now but those will be lifted eventually. 

QQ How do you let the homeless people know about these Drop-in events?   Answer:   There are parishioners in some of the churches that work directly with the homeless.   We went out to some of the sites and gave out information.   We also know of some of the homeless in Dinkytown and just gave them the information.  Also, The Aliveness Project does outreach and we know some people in that organization. 

Como Cares will be doing a Harm Reduction workshop with Aliveness in the near future.   Cody will try to get that info out to us. 

QQ:  What is “social solidarity”?   Answer:   Cody:  There are books on this, but it’s basically “connectedness”.   It’s when you give of yourself to the greater whole.  Andrew:   It’s how individuals come together to enhance each other’s lives.   [Referencing the studies Cody showed]  There was a peak in the ’70’s and then it started declining.   It’s really hard to create social solidarity in our area because of the high student-transient population.  We’re trying to rebuild the solidarity the n’hoods had back then [in the 70’s].   The way we’re trying to do that is reaching out to bring together. 

Cody:  After the George Floyd event, we saw a lot of people popup and come together.   People started to ask how neighbors can keep this going. 

QQ:  [Response to statement that in the University District, two-bedroom apartments are rented to four people.  The population is more than a bedroom count if you want to know how many students are living there.]   How do you know how to contact all these people?   Answer:  Andrew:  That’s what we’re working on.   We try to find a person in this [apartment] community to bring others together and create a larger community.    Cody:  we hear about people who have roommates going through a crisis and the contact person wants to know what to do to help.   If we can have the “tools” for appropriate response, hopefully we won’t have to bring in the city.  We’ve had some success with welcome packets in the past, but need a fresher approach.   CPS Juarez:  We get information to property managers and train staff to watch for “behavior change” or other markers; especially at mid-terms or finals.   Offer information for the tenant who comes in and wants to know what to do about someone who is changing.  If nothing else, a concerned person can contact MPD/CPS on behalf of that student.  We’ll go with protective services and take it from there.
Emilie Quast, Board member

MPD Second Precinct Advisory Council

Minneapolis MN 55418

March report, Part 2

Como Cares is a new community-building safety initiative that is just several months into development.   It’s being organized by  Cody Hoerning and  Andrew Norton, SECIA members, and Jessica Focht-Perlberg, SECIA Executive Director.   Como Cares progress to date was  reported in Part 1 of this report.

The  story about the successful first Drop-In Day, a Como Cares event, appeared in the MN Daily newspaper:     https://mndaily.com/266140/news/dinkytown-organizations-offer-haircuts-and-more-to-unsheltered-neighbors/

COURTWATCH
The new format for COURTWATCH was presented by Probation Office Holly Ihrke.  A group including P.O. Ihrke, Cody Hoerning, CPS Juarez, a Lt. from the Second Precinct.  

The new format will involve looking at incident locations, identifying what types of crime neighborhoods are experiencing,  and then following the higher profile events that may have elicited community impact statements, and giving updates on where these cases are in the court process.

Looking at the Second Precinct incident reports for February, Marcy-Holmes and Prospect Park were two high-incident areas.  There were seven felony charges in the Second Precinct, most were assault or felony theft related.   Both Zaccardi brothers are back in custody.    Scott Dennis Brozek is also back in custody and has pending charges.
Atty. Okoronkwo reported that he’s charged all the cases that have come to him.   Most are trespass cases from a parking ramp  in Stadium Village — 501 Washington Avenue, which is also the address of U of MN Parking and Transportation.  Likely those people were sheltering from the cold in a ramp stairwell.  505 Washington is the mail address of UMPD.

Using the MPD Dashboard to examine crime in the Second Precinct (or across the city) presents some “difficulties”.   Emilie explained that she can get the totals of Part 1 crimes from one place on the dashboard, but when she looks at the interactive incident map, the same symbol can be used for two different crimes or the same crime can be reported by two different symbols.  Plus, the symbols overlay so it’s difficult and not always possible to get down to the particular incident you want to look at.   She was concerned that a homicide was reported on the city in one viewing, but had disappeared from the map the next time she looked. 

CPS Juarez replied that the map symbol is fixed when a crime is first reported.   Some [perhaps] never get corrected if the charge changes.   A reported death may have first been called a homicide, but later changed to DOA, which would get corrected on the map. 

CPS Juarez gave a report of downtown activity on the first day of the Chauvin trial, and, happily, it was quiet.   He received no notices of  downtown activity. 

  From Nnamdi Okoronkwo to Everyone:  06:23 PM
https://mn.gov/doc/victims/crime-victim-rights-statutes/

2-PAC In April:   Over the last several years, 2-PAC has presented speakers from several of the 4th Judicial District’s Specialty Courts, which combine support, encouragement, and an expectation that the target will accept intense supervision and treatment.   In April, we will hear from Judge Mark Kappelhoff and some of his colleagues who will tell us how they are changing the Juvenile Courts  to improve outcomes for young people they see in their courts.

Emilie Quast, Board member

Feb. 2021 Report, Part 1

Echoes of War:  Combat Trauma, Criminal Behavior, and how we can do a better job, this time around. 

Brockton Hunter served as an Army Recon. Scout and sniper in the Gulf War, 30 years ago.   When he returned to civilian life, he initially found he had trouble fitting back in.  He graduated from college and then Law School, and has been practicing law in Minneapolis ever since, primarily in criminal defense.  He devotes a large part of his practice to working with veterans, and works as counsel for a non-profit, The Veterans’ Defense Project,  which focuses on policy, education, and advocacy,  to ensure that the courts in Minnesota, and across the country do a better job than they did for Gulf War veterans, and better help our current crop of veterans return to productive life in our communities.
In 2008, he helped pass the original Veterans Sentencing legislation and helped found the Hennepin County Veterans’ Court in 2010.   We now have about a dozen courts around the state.   Mr. Hunter is now revising the Minnesota statutes, and hopes that will be passed by this Legislature. 

In his presentation, Mr. Hunter explained why we see so many veterans come into the courts; what combat trauma looks like from the perspective of the veteran; how the courts are now doing a better job for our veterans than they have in the past; how they can do even better.

THE MINNESOTA MISSION
To improve the way the Minnesota justice system deals with troubled veterans,
by increasing understanding of the nature of combat trauma, its ties to criminal behavior,
and how criminal charges can serve as intervention opportunities to leverage
veteran offenders into needed treatment and help them become assets,
rather than ongoing liabilities,
to the communities they once risked their lives to protect. 

The Coming Storm:  Escalating numbers of veterans are entering the criminal courts in Minnesota, and across the country.   History tells us this will continue for the foreseeable future, creating  an increasing public health and public safety threat.Looking back to our recent history:

Lessons from Vietnam:   Of the 3 million  Americans who served in Vietnam, 1 to 1.5 million suffered psychological  injuries.  A decade later, followup revealed that, of those treated for psychological trauma, half had contact with the criminal justice system and been arrested at least one time;  over a third had been arrested 2 or more times; nearly 12% had been convicted of felonies.

Vietnam veterans faced more hostility when they came home.  They were actually blamed for fighting in an unpopular war.  They were called “baby killers” and worse.   The attitude was even more apparent when they encountered the justice system.   Veterans were actually treated more harshly than people who had not served but had committed the same crimes.  40 years later, hundreds of thousands are still incarcerated, chronically homeless, or addicted.  Some 58,000  Americans died in Vietnam, but at least that many or more committed suicide after the war.   Not all suicides are apparent, and experts suggest that as many as 150,000 contributed to their own deaths, when you include drug overdoses and other self-destructive behavior — that’s half of those who served.

Who gave service in Iraq and Afghanistan: so far, over 3,000,000 Americans have served there.  In 2012 the Institute of Medicine issued a report,  “Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in military and veteran population: initial assessment.”(1)   The report first suggested that returning veterans revealed a similar profile.  As of 2012, over 500,000 were displaying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).   Another 500,000 have traumatic brain injury (TBI)  Less than half of those have reported or requested treatment.   Experts are certain that these numbers are low, not accurate.
Additionally, over 300,000 women have served  in Iraq or Afghanistan.  They are now serving in combat roles, and are in the pipeline to become Navy Seals, Green Berets, and other frontline missions.  Right now, 20% have been diagnosed with PTSD, no doubt more have not received a diagnosis.   Women face additional stress:   they also are targets of military sexual trauma, committed by a peer or a superior — someone they are supposed to entrust with their lives.  Many of the women who come through the courts report sexual trauma, whether they’ve seen combat service or not.

How our current veterans are different from those 40 years ago.    The   Vietnam war was fought by draftees, who served one 12-month combat tour.  After that single tour, 90% went home.
In contrast, our current army is made up of volunteers and is much smaller.  To make up for the smaller army, the current army serves in multiple deployments.  Many have now served 2 or 3 combat tours, some have served as many as 8 full, year-long deployments.   Special Operations, Navy Seals, Rangers, and special teams will serve even more.  These will be shorter deployments but much more intense, since they are the “tip of the spear.”  Some Special Ops have had even 20 deployments.  

Experts agree these multiple deployments will lead to the highest rates of PTSD that we’ve ever seen.   PTSD is now referred to as  “exposure injury”.  

Civilians need to understand:  this is a warrior culture.  Focused service and self-sacrifice training doesn’t have a parallel in civilian life.  Warrior culture teaches that a soldier’s goal is completing the mission and taking care of the team, with little regard for self.   Mr. Hunter suggested the culture of selflessness is a barrier to accepting help when it’s needed.

Post-Vietnam Paradigm Shift:

Citizens no longer “Blame the Troops” as they did.  Today, we support our troops, whether or not we support the wars they fought.  Citizens accept that “we the people” elect the people who create the national policy to wage war.  

The goal of  the Veterans Defense Court is to turn the “Support the Troops” mentality into real, effective support for the troops who come home but struggle to reintegrate themselves into our communities.  Troops are aware they are not coming home to the hostility that ‘Nam veterans faced.   They are frustrated, however, that they are coming home to a public that does not know or much care about their sacrifice and courage, and isn’t interested in learning.   News stories are sanitized, if they’re printed at all. No one looks further. 

A piece of graffiti appeared on a wall at a base in Iraq:
America is not at war. 
The U.S. Marine Corps is at War. America is at the Mall.

When returning  troops meet indifference, they shut down, adding to their isolation.   Many turn to self-medication, or acting out, which finally leads to behavior that ends up in the justice system. 

People believe that since the U.S. has “only” lost 7,000 troops,  compared with other wars, this is a minor conflict.   Our low casualty numbers have a lot to do with high tech body armor, vehicle armor, battlefield medical advances which treat injuries that would have killed in earlier wars.  The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is brutal, close and very personal.  The following statistics were gathered by the US Army from troops returning from their 1st deployment to Iraq.    

94% of troops “received incoming small arms fire” — someone intended to kill them.86% knew someone seriously injured or killed.68% of troops had seen seriously injured or dead Americans.51% had personally handled human remains.48% had personally killed an enemy combatant.28% were responsible for the death of a noncombatant. 

The last group is particularly vulnerable.   Perhaps a child was caught in a crossfire or mistaken for an enemy combatant.  Enemy troops do attack our troops in heavily populated urban areas where civilians are likely to be “martyred”. Urban areas are also where the enemy uses suicide bombings as a weapon of choice to overcome our technical superiority.  Our troops must be on high alert:  friend/foe? friend/foe?   Miss a foe and your squad will die. Mistake a foe and an innocent person dies.  Military psychologists have a special term: Moral Injury — a special kind of trauma which occurs when someone believes they have done something morally wrong. 

It’s disturbing for us to think about these numbers or look at the pictures [which are in the youtube recording], and more difficult to put ourselves in these troop’s places.   But it’s very easy to understand why,  if this has happened in a person’s life, they’ll find it easy to turn to self-medication to find a temporary peace or perhaps dreamless sleep.

Combat experience can lead to criminal behavior:
Some self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.  Some engage in self-destructive, or reckless or violent behavior against the communities they risked their lives to protect.
Some have dissociative episodes or “flashbacks” in which they are reliving combat — this leads to armed confrontations with police who are perceived as “enemy.”
All have military training which can condition them to perceive an innocent event as a threat: Friend/Foe?”  Their training triggers violent response.
Mr. Hunter pointed to historical research which documents that this kind of trauma has been around as long as we have written history.  Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”, some 3000 years old, depict a classic case of combat trauma, exactly as it manifests in today’s returning warriors.  Scholarship has clearly revealed veteran-caused crime waves after every major conflict as veterans return.   After the Civil War, U.S. prisons were filled with returning veterans who had brought their war home with them, and had ended up “at war” with the community they’d fought to protect. This actually led to the first prison reform movements as families of the prisoners petitioned for better treatment and consideration of the veterans’ war service.  World Wars I and II led veterans to the rogue motorcycle culture across the U.S.  As the older veterans disappeared, they were replaced in the 1960s and 70s by returning Vietnam veterans and that pattern may repeat with today’s returning veterans.
A modern treatise on veteran criminal behavior comes from the Military:  the 2009 Fort Carson EPICON Study.   EPICON is “Epidemiological Consultation”.   The study concludes that “Post-deployment violence is most often tied to a combination of pressures of multiple  deployments and exposure to combat,   that is, it’s the number and intensity of deployments. From the report, “Survey data from this investigation suggest a possible association between increasing levels of combat exposure and risk of negative behavioral outcomes.”  This study was launched after a significant rise in incidents by returning troops: one returning brigade (2000 individuals) was responsible for over a dozen homicides and hundreds of violent assaults in their first year after returning from their second deployment. 

The rising numbers of homeless people in the U.S. is another link to combat-related trauma.  A 2006 Wilder report on homelessness in Minnesota uncovered that 24% of Minnesota’s homeless males were veterans and more than half of those had “serious mental illness.” (2)   A further study explains how PTSD and TBI link to criminal behavior.   For further reading, see the Baker and Alfonsi study linked below.(3)  

Solutions, so far:  Changes are happening in legal response on the federal, state, and local government levels.    The federal government has made service a cause for sentencing departure.(4)   California and Minnesota started in 2007 and 2008 by passing legislation that permits a judge to take military service into consideration and permitting a closely monitored probationary treatment — much more likely to result in a change of behavior than a jail term with no treatment.  [See MN Statutes, 2006 revision, footnoted below (5)]   The bill opened the door to prosecutors and judges growing awareness that military veterans’ war experiences were life changing.   The next year, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling in Porter v. McCullom war experience should be considered a mitigating factor in decisions.(6)

In their ruling, the Justices cited the Minnesota and California laws.   This is where the Veterans’ Defense Project got its real start.   People from other states began contacting resources in the two states to find out how they could add this defense in their states.  Volunteers formalized their policy, and started writing “Defending Veterans”(7)   

Over the last 10 years, one of the responses across the country has been the development of Specialty Courts — Drug Courts,  DWI Courts, Mental Health Courts — based on the understanding that drug use or trauma is driving repetitive criminal behavior.  If you address the issues driving substance abuse and root those issues out, the clients won’t keep coming back to the court.   The Project got started in Hennepin County, and now includes over a dozen of the 87 Minnsota counties, but all counties do not offer uniform response, and, of course, most counties have no program in place.  The outcomes of the different programs are very different. 

Most court programs offer the client a legal incentive to get into the program and see it through. These programs are not a “Get Out of Jail, Free” card.  The Client is offered a “legal incentive”.  While in the process, the client will be subject to intense monitoring and accountability and the requirement to  cooperate with treatment.  In turn, the client will avoid jail time and this conviction, whenever possible.  This is not yet true in all Veterans Courts, and where it is NOT true, veteran participation declines. 

As time passed, Mr. Hunter and others became aware that some MN veterans courts were starting to fail.   With help of a MN grant, they organized a working group that included Chief County Attorneys of Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington Counties, the MN Public Defender, leaders from the VA and the MN Dept. of Veterans Affairs.  This group had monthly meetings at the State Supreme Court discussing/arguing over what could be seen to work and what was not working for these people.  Findings were distilled into a list of best practices, The Disposition Issue.  The client will be given an opportunity to earn their way out of a conviction, especially, a felony conviction — something that will stop them from improving their lives in many significant ways.  In summary:
Pre-Conviction Ajudication

  • Recognizes the service and sacrifice of the veterans on behalf of their communities.
  • Helps re-establish the broken trust between veterans and their government and communities.
  • Incentivizes commitment to complete traumatic treatment.
  • Offers hope of redemption  and the ability to once again become an asset, not an on-going liability.
  • Better protects the public in the short and long term.

These best practices are embodied in a piece of legislation now pending in the MN Legislature:The Veterans Restorative Justice Act

  • Presumptive stay of adjudication under certain conditions:
    • There is a connection between offense and military service-related condition
      • unless agreed to by both parties, a hearing must determine that connection exists.
    • Limited to Level 7 offenses (which come with a presumptive probation charge) and below unless agreed to by both parties. Level 8 and above come with a presumptive prison charge
    • A guilty plea is entered as a safeguard
      • ensures acceptance of responsibility as a first step toward rehabilitation
      • ensures swift sanctions if the veteran fails to comply
  • Transfer of Supervision
    • this provision standardizes and formally authorizes the best practices of most Veterans Treatment Courts.
    • enables the transfer of supervision from the county where the offense occurred to the county where the veteran resides, if they are different, without concerns for continuity.
  • End of Supervision Hearing
    • Dismissal of the charges is not guaranteed
    • A public hearing is required at the end of supervision
      • there is an opportunity for the prosecutor and the victim to challenge the dismissa
    • To justify dismissal, the court must find:
      • the Veteran has successfully completed conditions of probation and treatment;
      • the Veteran is no longer a danger to the public;
      • the court must consider the level of harm the veteran’s offense caused.

In summary, the VRJA addresses three major issues:  1) eligibility  for admission to Veterans Treatment Courts; 2) who will decide if a veteran meets the eligibility; 3) what will the legal benefit be for a veteran who volunteers for and completes the requirements imposed by a VTC.
The good news is that Hennepin County has a strong, well-functioning Veterans’ Court. 

(1) https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13364/treatment-for-posttraumatic-stress-disorder-in-military-and-veteran-populations (2) https://www.wilder.org/sites/default/files/imports/Homelessoverview2006_3-07.pdf(3) Baker, Claudia, MSW, MPH, and Cessie Alfonso, LCSW. PTSD and Criminal Behavior, A National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet. US Department of Veterans  Affairs. Retrieved 11 August 2007 from URL: http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/ncdocs/fact_shts/fs_legal.html?opm=1&rr=rr91&srt=d&echorr=true (4) https://guidelines.ussc.gov/gl/%C2%A75H1.11 (5) https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/609.115  Scroll down to  Subd. 10.Military veterans. (6)  https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1756/porter-v-mccollum/ (7) Hunter, Brockton,  and Else, Ryan.  The Attorney’s Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court.  Veterans Defense Project: 2014  ISBN  978-1932021813
QUESTIONS: QQ: Is there any way for individuals or groups to throw support behind the Veterans Defense Project?ANSWER:  The website address is http://veteransdefenseproject.org/    The dashboard includes ABOUT, the “Minnesota Initiative” and a DONATE button, and more.
QQ: In past wars, the whole country was impacted and involved.   This eroded with the media coverage of the war in Vietnam, but again, that was staffed by the draft. Anyone’s kid could be drafted.ANSWER: Today, 1% of the population are in uniform, and only half of those are deployed, so 0.5%.   Compare that with about 16% who were deployed in World War II.  Most Americans don’t know anything about the wars in Afghanistan, and don’t know anyone who served.  This war is distanced from Americans who are thus detached from this war, and returning veterans can sense that. 
QQ: What can Americans do to help veterans reintegrate before they commit crimes. 
ANSWER: Americans need to come up with plans to re-engage the veterans.    They return with significant, demanding adult-life experience.  They have training in leadership and team building, superior technical training, and other skills that can be put to use in our communities at a time when we need those skills.   Unless they get the help they need, to get up and move down a good path, they are never going to fulfill that potential.QQ: When kids sign up, what is the picture that is presented to them, starting with recruiters? What do recruiters really tell them about what they’re walking into?
ANSWER:  Through history, the recruiting ages are about 18-22, and that is an age when you are almost physically mature, but still think you’re invulnerable.  He related his own experience: he saw enlistment as a big adventure, an exciting  way to get out and see the world.   He’d seen the movies that glamorize war, and wanted to go out and live that movie. One advantage:  kids signing up today can know they’re signing up for war because we’ve been at war for 10 years.  Some do know that.  Others are “blissfully unaware.”    We know that recruiters are under pressure to  sign up enough to fill those uniforms.   Be aware that the level of service people will face varies from service to service and from job to job.  Not everyone is going to be out there kicking down doors and getting shot at.
There is one point he finds himself addressing often.    People don’t understand why in this time of voluntary service there are unprecedented numbers of re-deployments.   Why do they keep signing up?   Why did they want to go back? This belief leads people to be “dismissive” of the veterans sacrifice and damage.  The answer is that after a person has gone through heavy deployment, it changes you.  Veterans have told him that when they came back, they realized they didn’t fit here, anymore.   The only place where they felt valued and worthwhile and the only place they could contribute was back on the battlefield.   That’s where people understand them and that is where they feel they are part of something bigger than themselves.  They have had life and death responsibility and been in charge of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, on their own, 7,000 miles away.  Back here, some can only find work behind the counter of a convenience store.  
QQ:   Someone who has traveled extensively and spent time in Spain would like to know how we can rebuild the image of America?   When we travel, people ask why America was even in Vietnam.   Why didn’t we do things differently then and now?ANSWER: He has had the same kinds of questions from people around the world.   There’s no question that our image has suffered.QQ:  She was asked  in college to get up and help make returning veterans feel comfortable.   When she asked how, the answer was by talking to people.   How often do people do that, and who are these people?ANSWER: There is a program called The Yellow Ribbon Initiative.  They ask people to get out and get involved in a variety of ways, doing outreach to veterans.   They have been great partners in helping start Veterans Courts.   [FFI: https://www.yellowribbon.mil/cms/about-us/   NB: This is for enlisted people and their families; support and reintegration are the stated goals of this organization, which depends on volunteers for much of the work.]

Minnesota also has a non-profit “Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans”.   They provide assistance with housing, employment and legal services.  They created the “Vet-Law” program, which attracts attorneys to come to the VA to participate in legal clinics for vets.  They also have a Stand-Down event at Fort Snelling once a year.  (A stand down is where many organizations come to a single spot to offer assistance and counseling to vets at one big day-long affair. The Hennepin County event can have 2000-3000 vets attend during the run of a long day.) [FFI: https://www.mac-v.org/ ]  

The Youtube recording: https://youtu.be/xO_A76aorQc


Emilie Quast, board member
MPD Second Precinct Council
Minneapolis MN 55418
e-quas@tc.umn.edu

Feb. 2021 report, part 2: Courtwatch and Precinct report

Our speaker this month, Brockton Hunter is an attorney and former U.S. Army Scout, who saw active service during his enlistment.   He has an active practice, and is also leading the push to  make Veterans’ Court the standard protocol for response to veterans of active service who have brought the war home with them.   Mr. Hunter joined us to explain how  America can restore returning veterans to productive post-deployment life by following a model of response, pending in  Minnesota legislation, called the Veterans Restorative Justice Act
Mr Hunter is the lead editor and co-author of the book, The Attorney’s Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court, available at www.veteransdefenseproject.org.
A report of his presentation is in Part 1 of the February report.

COURTWATCH:   Probation Officer Ihrke reported that the City Attorney’s staff is still defining what the new Courtwatch procedure will be.  She and City Atty. Okoronkwo will relay the new format in March. 

STATE OF THE PRECINCT
Per the MPD Dashboard, 14 days reported at the meeting, updated to previous 21 days on 2-13:
Part 1 Crime: 4   Rape, 10 Robbery14, Agg. assault, 8   Domestic Agg. assault
Part 2 Crime: 27 Burglary, 111 Larceny, 66 Theft from MV, 57 Auto theft.  

Additional info can be gleaned from the crime maps on the Dashboard, which sometimes don’t use official terms, so may be a bit more specific.   Be aware that the symbols on the maps are sometimes not assigned correctly.    

1 bicycle theft was reported, which does not appear as a separate category.  This is way down from bike theft reports in warm weather, of course. One of the auto thefts in PPark was a car jacking, but that also does not appear in a separate category.   I can’t tell if that counted as both auto theft and robbery or not.

New report on a problem house in Marcy Holmes at 14th St. and 15th Avenue SE:  This house has been the site of two shots-fired, party-fueled events on 1/1/21 and 1/31/21.  Nine people were shot, but no one received life-threatening injuries.  

At the landlord’s request, CPS Nick Juarez is working with the landlord toward eviction of the current tenants, who are NOT college students.  It’s fortunate that the house rental permit is up for renewal this year because that means the house is subject to inspection which may speed up the eviction process. 

The Second Precinct has significantly increased patrol in that area, to the point that one of the tenants commented to an officer about it.

Discussion: “theft of motor parts” which often means “theft of catalytic converter.”A bill was introduced in both the MN House and Senate.   The intro reads in part:  A bill for an act relating to public safety; establishing requirements for the purchase of catalytic converters;
Contact your state representative and ask them to support HF330,  also contact your state senator  and ask them to support SF206 which is the corresponding bill in the senate.

Sydney.Jordan@house.mn
rep.mohamud.noor@house.mn
karid@senate.mn
Here’s the full text of both bills —
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF0330&version=latest&session=92&session_number=0&session_year=2021220 ashttps://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF206&version=latest&session=ls92&session_year=2021&session_number=0
CPS Juarez commented that a similar bill was proposed several years ago when copper theft was raging in response to high copper prices.   The recycling lobby stopped that bill on the issue of, “How does one identify who owned the copper before someone brought it into the metal recycler?”    CC-theft bills may fail on that point as well, since few car owners  put an identifying mark on their catalytic converters.

Inspector Loining added that recyclers are very quick to put  materials into the crusher.  Cars   can be moved from the lot to the crusher in just a few minutes–obliterating the VIN and other identification. 

There’s a good article on this theft here: https://www.motorbiscuit.com/why-are-thieves-stealing-catalytic-converters-in-my-town/   One of the section heads says that a thief can make $200/converter, and the recycler will still make a profit. 

Emilie Quast, board member
MPD Second Precinct Advisory Council (2-PAC) 
Minneapolis MN 55418
e-quas@tc.umn.edu

Jan. 2021 meeting report, part 1: Criminal Justice Behavioral Institute

Leah Kaiser  holds an advanced degree in forensic psychology.   She worked on the East Coast for several years and then in Hennepin County  Juvenile Corrections, chiefly with the Juvenile County Home School.  Six years ago she moved to Hennepin County Health and Human Services.  Currently she oversees the mental health system and people living with addictions, including both operative services  (teams that deliver )  and the larger network. 

There is an intersection between mental health/or behavioral health and criminal justice which mental health and law enforcement officials are beginning to align.

Background of the current program:  

5 years ago, partners in public safety and human services began looking at the people cycling through the courts and the jails who’s mental illness was driving their criminal behaviors.  Despite the many services, interventions  and resources, a small group of people continued to cycle and show poor outcomes.  

Profile of this cohort:  They have a lot of interaction with the police and cycle through the justice system.  They have mental health or addiction issues.  They often have housing instability or are homeless. 

The County Board, along with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, launched the Criminal Justice Behavioral Initiative. 

Ms Kaiser conveined representatives from the agencies, County and City, that deal with this cohort.   People from the MPD,  the HCSO, 911, Public Defender’s Office and more have been meeting for almost 6 years. 

They started with looking at the systems in use elsewhere to evaluate what was and wasn’t working well and found the Sequential Intercept Model.   This model was developed by SAMHSA.  It suggests you divide the interaction by intercepts across the criminal justice system.  The first contact for a person with mental illness is often a police officer (usually), then jail, court, probation, community.   The model shows where, in this process, you want to have a certain kind of response.    The team could look at the Hennepin model in comparison with the national model, and see where  the Hennepin County model could improve.   They found that H.C. had a lot going on at the end of the system (policies, services, data)  but very little at the beginning, the first contact someone has with law enforcement.   

For the last five years, members of the team have been lobbying for  money to support new programs and policies, earlier in the intercept channel. 

The team started with a new kind of training, Crisis Intervention Training (CIT),  which was added to the training program for Police Academy recruits.  The Co-Responder model was developed as an alternative first “intercept” (Kathy Waite was one of the people who worked on that model).   The  program has also  put social workers in H.C. Jail and in the Adult Corrections Facility in Plymouth.  They have developed the forensic ACT which is like a hospital without walls,  which provides a 24-hour service team supporting people with serious mental illness who are also on probation.   The teams help people stay on their meds so their symptoms are managed and they don’t continue to commit offenses.

The team created the Behavioral Health  Center at 1800 Chicago, a facility where people with low level offenses can get help.  People who want help can walk in and get it (ph. 612-540-5700).   If an officer finds a person with a low level offense (open bottle, trespassing, disorderly, etc) she can use 1800 as a drop-off center.   When the officer  brings the person to 1800 Chicago Ave., the criminal system disengages and the social service system takes over.  The Center provides mental and chemical health treatment, financial, food and medical help, housing and transportation programs and employment resources.   While 1800  Chicago is intended to meet the immediate needs of a crisis, the teams have found that unless they understand what went on before the crisis and what a successful outcome will look like, the process is likely to repeat.

Ms. Kaiser reminded us that this body of work is not limited to what happens in the Second Precinct or even Minneapolis.  The strategy covers all of Hennepin County.  

Many of her team have worked on the form of the Co-Responder Program we had (pre-Covid-19) at the Second Precinct.    They are now starting to field 911 calls; some go out with an officer, but others go out on their own.   The intent is to let cops do what cops are trained to do, and to let mental health professionals do their work also.  They found that the presence of an officer,  even in soft uniform, can escalate a situation.  Also along these lines, a system with the Downtown Improvement District is being developed that involves no officers in response, but does leverage mental health professional services.   A lot of these calls involve addiction issues.

One of the programs, Restorative Court, started with the City Attorney’s office and the Judiciary.  When a person first appears in court, providing the person is willing to engage, the City Attorney’s office, Social Services and the Court discuss if Social Services can support them.   If that is in place, the City Attorney can offer a better disposition, but it is hinged on the client’s continuing to work with social services toward an agreed upon outcome.  This has produced encouraging recidivism stats:  of 144 clients who entered Restorative Court, 100 did NOT re-offend (69%),  and 84% were people of color.

Ms Kaiser emphasized that the services and programs she’s described are not the work of any one program or office.   These services have been developed through consultation and collaboration. 

QUESTION:  Is there any talk about changing the response model to 911 calls not involving weapons?  The asker has done ride-alongs with University Police; it seemed like most calls were about trespassing or livability issues.

ANSWER:  This is being discussed.  Hennepin County just passed a resolution stating that a task force will study the system and implement improvements. A year ago, they launched a pilot program with the Sheriff’s Office 911 dispatch — note that the S.O. does dispatch for its own officers and 8 cities (not including Mpls.).   A year ago, Kaiser’s team put a mental health professional into dispatch to start studying what change could look like.   There are various levels of security and privacy issues that affect how a 911 call can be handled. 

There is also a cultural habit to deal with.  Right now, citizens are conditioned to call 911 for emergencies, starting with very young children–that is the default.  Similarly, police officers are the default, and they know this and do know that they’ll be called in for situations that have nothing to do with breaking any law. 

The ultimate goal of the mental health teams is to get people the help they need in the quickest way.   We have to turn the impulse away from “Call 911” every time, to calling the response that will access the most on-point response. There never will be a one-call-fits-all number and it’s reckless to suggest that.   Similarly, it’s reckless to talk about never calling the cops because there are incidents that need trained, armed professionals.  The goal is to get people the help they need so they will stabilize and no longer need to call for help over and over to get their needs met.  We’re living in a time when we need to accelerate our efforts, but at the same time, we need to be careful that we don’t tear down something that is helpful and needed.

QUESTION: What happened to the Co-Responder program that was pulled out of the Precinct at the beginning of the pandemic?

ANSWER: We have a contract with the City of Mpls but are waiting for direction from the City about what model they want — they have several models to explore.  Additionally, the models will be changing as Covid-19 vaccines roll out.   The teams will be looking at if some kinds of service retain effectiveness with remote contact.   If some levels of service seem to require going out into the field, they’ll figure out how to do that and when it’s most needed.   

Right now, the services that were offered through COPE are still in place, but the agency has changed how they’re operated.   [In Hennepin County, Adults 18+ call 612.596.1223 – Children 17 and under 612.348.2233 – Anywhere in the state, call **CRISIS 274747 to reach the nearest County crisis team] 

Ms Kaiser added that it’s important for people to remember that they can reach out for help before things escalate to a crisis.  They can help people navigate the system, look at possible responses and hopefully forestall a crisis entirely.    Hennepin County has a call center that helps people get connected to social services.  Its called the “Front Door” 612-348-4111 and  has social workers waiting to field those calls.

For a parting note, Ms. Kaiser suggested people look at the five year report and send any questions to her. See https://www.hennepin.us/-/media/hennepinus/your-government/projects-initiatives/documents/Criminal_Justice-Behavioral_Health_Initiative_Report_2020.pdf

**EQ:  Wikipedia has an excellent  SIM page:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

Sequential_Intercept_Model

Recording of this Zoom meeting has available on Youtube:  https://youtu.be/o-VQ_Lw8RDk

Emilie Quast, board member

MPD Second Precinct Advisory Council (2-PAC)

Minneapolis MN 55418

e-quas@tc.umn.edu
Attachments areaPreview YouTube video 2PAC Meeting January 2021 “Hennepin County Justice Behavioral Health Initiative”

Jan. 2021 Meeting, part 2: Crime and Courtwatch

Our speaker this month was Leah Kaiser, who leads the Hennepin County Justice Behavioral Health Initiative.    You’ll find a report on her presentation in Part 1 of this report. 

If you have any questions about anything Ms Kaiser discussed or about this part of the report, send them to me e-quas@tc.umn.edu  and I’ll get an answer back to you.

PRECINCT REPORT:   CPS Nicholas Juarez and Rashid Ali bringing updates.
On 12/23 and 12/26, someone fired shots into a house on the 2500 block of SE Como.   On the first report, 5 to 7 shots were fired directly at the door of this duplex. In the second incident, shots were fired at the same residence, at a neighboring residence, and at a vehicle.  There is no public report of the reasons for those shots.  Officers gathered 15 or 20 casings from the scene.   The tenant has asked to be released from the lease. 

On January 1 at 3AM, three people attending a large New Year party were wounded by shots fired.  All are expected to survive.   The victims and their friends refused to cooperate with officers.  The  person doing the damage is a black male, 5’5″ with shoulder length braids.    This is a problem property.   Several days later, officers had to go in for another noisy party complaint, and this was followed by a third noisy party complaint.  The property owner is not responding to requests for information.
Nick reported that auto theft is rising.   Between January 1 and 7, we had 13 auto thefts, 10 of them were cars left idling or with the keys in the car, so very preventable.   Additionally, theft from motor vehicles and theft of catalytic converters drive the numbers in the Second Precinct.   Target cars are Honda CVV, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Cross Trek and Hyundais.  Some of these vehicles can be retrofitted with a converter lock.   See your auto-repair garage for more information.
In the two weeks since we met, the Second Precinct recorded an additional 16 violent crimes and 140 property crimes, 86 of them involving motor vehicles.   Catalytic converter thieves are now moving up Stinson Boulevard, apparently, as well as into SE Como.    Despite all that, the 2nd Precinct remains the precinct reporting the least number of crime incidents in the city.   We need to start hearing those sawz-alls.

   COURTWATCH:  Nnamdi Okoronkwo, City Attorney and Holly Ihrke, P.O.  relayed how the change to Courtwatch is coming along.  (Their meeting, joining reps. from Hennepin County was scheduled for the next day.)   The City Attorney’s office does not support the Chronic Offenders lists any more.   Atty. Okoronkwo has been instructed to assist the Precincts in following some of the more troublesome offenders.     

Atty Okoronkwo had posted updates on three people from the previous list.
Samuel Haasse is now in Vet’s Court, which offers more supervision.   The Attorney believes that the closer supervision drives the personal accountability he sees developing. This is a service that is provided because of the client’s service to the country [building on a point of pride, perhaps].   Haasse has a review hearing later in January.   The hope of the specialty court program is to reduce recidivism. 

Jeffrey Breene is now in Restorative Court, a different specialty court.  He is not picking up more cases, either. 

Joshua Poplawski is another person on this list.   P.O. Ihrke had invited Poplawski’s probation officer to this meeting, but that person didn’t show up.  Atty Okoronkwo had talked to the P.O. and heard they were trying to get Popawski a bed.   The problem is that if he isn’t in jail, he’s not likely to get to his bed, or that they’ve kicked him out due to behavioral issues.   They’re still working for him, based on a belief that he will respond to close supervision.  He was still active in the U of MN area in November and December.   Atty. referred to Leah Kaier’s presentation, suggesting that a police response to this client is not necessarily the best response.   If Poplawski has been frightening people, however, police response may be called for.Atty. Okoronkwo wants to leave Poplawski on the list, as a “gap case”: not mentally ill enough to require civil commitment, but still picking up cases.

Kelli Durow is another gap case, but  has been found incompetent before, which means you can’t move forward with a treatment plan. 

Michael Zaccardi – P.O. Ihrke reported that he is in pre-trial and IS in compliance with probation — he’s doing the best he’s ever done on probation.  His pre-trial is for a felony case; we’ll get a report next month.
Meetings will be held this month with a few stakeholders to decide how to better align Courtwatch with community concerns.
CPS Nick Juarez pointed out that when Courtwatch was organized, one in each precinct, the Second Precinct was notable because the others all had Part 1 crime.   The Second focused on theft and livability crime, because that is what we had here [and we want to return to that status, I think].

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

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

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

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

ACTIVE, OLDER BENCH WARRANTS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emilie Quast, Board member, 2-PAC

Dec. 2020 Meeting, part 1: Hennepin County Justice Behavioral Health Initiative [preliminary report]

[Link to Zoom recording posted on Youtube at bottom of page]

In January, 2020, 2-PAC heard a presentation about the MPD Co-Responder program, which paired a professional mental health worker with an officer to respond to 911 calls answering people in mental health crisis. Thanks to Covid-19, this program has changed a lot since January.  I understand from Nick Juarez they are still “responding” but are now in a central office, NOT in the Precinct.  If so, clients still have a path to get into treatment at once, on the basis of the mental health worker’s ability to cut red tape.  Clients also still have a professional doing follow up with them and their families or S.O.s.  

When I heard about the changes, I contacted the Hennepin County Justice Behavioral Health Initiative, which administers this program in several suburbs and also covers the HCJ.    Leah Kaiser,  Senior  Administrator  in the Hennepin County Dept. of Behavioral Health to tell us how this program is being run in the time of Covid-19.  

However, last Wednesday she had to send me regrets that neither she nor a colleague could make it, but asked if we could reschedule after the first of the year. 

We can do that because this is the kind of program I think the Mpls City Council is working at designing.   It’s informative for us to look at a program in operation so we have something to hold up in comparison with the ideas coming out of City Hall. 

In the HC Justice Behavioral website I found and picked out the barest outline of their program, which I’m presenting here.  When I first came across this website, it sounded so much like the kind of program the City Council is talking about building.   I hope it provides the same kind of enlightenment for you.  

I also hope that you will look at this and start thinking about questions to ask Ms Kaiser when she makes it in to 2-PAC.   We should be able to get more in depth clarifications from her if we already understand the basics of the Hennepin County Behavioral Health Initiative.

The first reference is the source of my outline, which I followed pretty closely. https://www.hennepin.us/justicebehavioralhealth

After that is a list of newspaper articles and similar releases about parts of the program, progress they’ve achieved, and a few snags.

So: summarizing from the website: 

The traditional criminal justice system is not sufficiently responsive to clients who have mental and chemical health needs. …  Similarly, the behavioral health system is not designed to serve people who are also involved in the criminal justice process.These mismatches end up costing both the health care and criminal justice system too much money for little benefit to the people who need help most. 

In Hennepin County, the Criminal Justice Behavioral Health Initiative is working to break this cycle  … in hopes of creating better outcomes for some of our most vulnerable residents. County programs are drawing on county resources across systems… to focus more effort where it makes most sense in the criminal justice process.Their procedure:  

To foster collaboration among criminal justice, health and human services departments so that law enforcement and judicial professionals will recognize what mental illness looks like.   Only then can they tap effective responses.    Behavioral Health professionals will plan for continued care after a person has been discharged from either the county jail or a correctional facility.  Those professionals will also develop local programs for inmates who have been declared incompetent to stand trial but will also expand alternatives to jail or detention.  They will develop a network of community mental health providers who specialize in working within the criminal justice system. 

Desired outcomes include moving high need clients quickly into better coordinated community based mental health care services.   This should reduce the need for emergency room services and also lower the rate of recidivism. 

Examples of innovations already being developed include:
Integrated access teams which include social workers, chemical health counselors, housing specialists and community health workers who, with the sheriff’s office and the medical staff at Henn. County Jail, ID people who are at high risk to return to jail and who have serious mental health needs.   The team contacts them while they are in jail and stays in contact after release to link them to the set of services they need.  

Crisis intervention training (CIT) for law enforcement so they can better respond to calls where mental illness is a likely factor.  The website states they are pursuing alternative options for dropoff at locations where a person can immediately access mental health assessments, appropriate medication, detox, crisis housing and more.

At the Behavioral Health Center, many disciplines unite to produce a care model that has greater impact than any one approach can yield.     Clients can choose from a menu of options to achieve stability, based on what is most important to them.   At the Behavioral Health Center, clients will be connected to resources they need. 

check here ffi:  https://www.hennepin.us/-/media/hennepinus/your-government/projects-initiatives/documents/bhc-graphic.pdf 

Find more news stories here:

Restorative Court

Co-responder team

Crisis intervention training

Board briefing

—————————Also, someone asked me if I was “just talking about COPE”.   COPE is only one part of this comprehensive plan.

Youtube link from Dec 2PAC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK9HyxS6J-g

Nov. 9 Report, part 1

The Zoom meeting was called to order on Nov. 9, 2020 at 6:10 PM.  24 people attending
Our speaker was Michael Huffman, Director of outreach and shelter for St. Stephen’s Street Outreach program.   St. Stephen’s Street Outreach program is the go-to place that MPD, UMPD, MPRB-PD and others call first when they find someone needing food, shelter and other support. 

The Program’s Mission is to end homelessness.  Its mission statement:  We envision a community in which housing instability is rare, brief, and non-recurring, ending homelessness as we know it.

The Roadmap – topics covered in this presentation:

  • Homelessness in our community
  • Homelessness emergency response system
  • Agency overview:  St. Stephen’s human services
  • Street Outreach:  working with people experiencing homelessness
  • What can you do?

How many people are unsheltered in our community?  St. Stephens does a count, twice a year (except this year, July count canceled due to Covid-19).  A two year chart shows an increase from 404 in January, 2019,  to 732 18 months later.   St. Stephens believes this is an undercount.  See:  https://hennepin.us/-/media/hennepinus/your-government/projects-initiatives/end-homelessness/unsheltered-report-jul.2019.pdf
Where do homeless people shelter at night (% based on 2019 count): 
36.6% shelter on transit  (In August, the trains shut down several hours every night, so people shifted to other sites)
28.8% are on street, sidewalk or skyway15.3% are in a park or other open space12.7% are under a bridge or overpass9% are on private property or up all night5.6% are in a vehicle
The actual number shows a substantial 3-fold increase from 2015-2019 in Continuum of Care area that includes Hennepin and Ramsey County and Suburban Metro Area (which is made up of Anoka, Dakota, Scott, Carver and Washington counties that function as one unit).   The greatest leap was a 55% increase from 2018 to 2019.  The metro suburbs had the greatest number of unsheltered people in 2015 and 2016.   Since then, Hennepin County has reported larger number  than the other two divisions, combined.  

Racial disparities — Twin Cities
Unsheltered people in the Twin Cities are disproportionately non white.  Looking at population as a proportion of the whole, people of color show up 2.7 times more than expected.  African Americans appear 5.3 times more, and Native Americans are 27.1 times more likely to show up in the homeless population than their percents of the U.S. population as a whole. 
See  https://pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis-blogs/stateline/2019/03/29/a-pileup-of-inequities-why-people-of-color-are-hit-hardest-by-homelessnessand https://endhomelessness.org/resource/racial-equity-resources/
Putting it another way, if you compare percents of the total Minnesota adult population and the population of adult homeless

Identity     % of all      % of homeless
Black            5                 37

White          83                 34

Native           1                 12

Hispanic       4                   8

Asian           5                   2

Multi-race    1                   7


Causes of Homelessness (Symptoms, follow)

  • Affordable housing shortage
  • Lack of adequate shelter space
  • Lack of adequate services for mental health & substance use disorder
  • Institutionalized racism
  • Historical trauma
  • Personal trauma
  • Drug epidemic – cheap and accessible opiates, meth, etc.

Symptoms of homelessness include substance use disorder, untreated mental health issues, etc. 

Note that what “we” see may not be that abnormal.  It’s easier to recognize when someone is homeless, because they do not have a place to stay — everything happens out on the street.  In contrast, substance use and  untreated mental health issues among people who do have shelter, is not obvious; it’s hidden from view. 
https://mappingprejudice.umn.edu/https://www.tpt.org/sold-out-affordable-housing-at-risk/https://nlihc.org/housing-needs-by-state/minnesota
HOMELESSNESS EMERGENCY RESPONSE SYSTEM The emergency response system includes

  • Outreach teams  – St. Stephens has nine outreach staff and a program manager
  • Shelters – St. Stephens has two shelters, but is also one of five providers in a collaborative shelter group.  This is growing, and there is also a winter partner, Elim in NE Mpls.
  • Service support: Hennepin County provides additional access workers for the homeless, as well as health care, diversion, and recovery team
  • Housing providers

AGENCY OVERVIEW During fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, St. Stephens served: 3152 Households 598 Families 1356 Children
4676 Unique individuals (many of these are contacts from the outreach program and are one-time interactions)
2553 Single adults 159 Veterans NB: the above numbers do not show a true count.  Some folks were not included in the above count since the kind of services they received doesn’t fall neatly into only one category or would have inflated St. Stephens’ population
AGENCY OVERVIEW

  • 683 Next Step assessments were completed with  Hennepin county families.
  •  Households in the Prevention Program received an average of $3223 per household.
  •  47.3% of the households were new to this program in FY2020, while 52.7% were carried over from the previous year.
  • 1132 individuals were provided shelter for at least one night.
  • Street outreach staff had 4647 engagements with 1020 known individuals and 1638 engagements with previously unknown individuals.

Emergency Response programs include

  • Street outreach
  • Housing Programs
    • Prevention
    • Rapid-rehousing
    • Permanent Supportive Housing for Singles and Families
  • Community Education
    • A Day In The Life (ADITL)
  • Representative payee program, a court ordered program.   About 550 people need St. Stephens to handle their Social Security every month.
  • Community Resources
    • Birth Certificates
    • Handbook of the Streets
    • Holiday drop ins

STREET OUTREACH – Working with people experiencing homelessness, staying in places not meant for human habitation

  • Objectives of Street Outreach Services, providing intervention that better meet the needs of homeless people than police intervention programs can because this is not a crisis situation, to:   1) Support individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness; 2)  Decrease street homelessness; 3) Decrease arrests at calls where social service intervention would be more effective; 4) Provide emergency resources; 5) Provide housing opportunities and long term support; 6) Respond to non-emergency calls from concerned citizens.
    • HARM REDUCTION AND HOUSING FIRST:  Meeting people where they are–emotionally, physically and geographically; There is no requirement to be “housing ready”
      https://harmreduction.org/about-us/principles-of-harm-reduction
    • EFFECTIVE STREET OUTREACH:  1) Engagement that is respectful and non-judgmental; 2) Assessments that focus on individuals’ safety and harm-reduction; 3) Client-centered, patient and resourceful; 4) Compassionate and personalized.
    • RESOURCE REFERRALS:  1)  Immediate:  Emergency shelter, basic needs, emergency medical, crisis response, advocacy.    2) Longer term:  Mental health services; Substance use disorder services, employment services, permanent housing, supportive service, ongoing case management services.  Everything St. Stephens is doing has a goal of permanent, appropriate, safe housing.
  • PARTNERSHIPS:  Law enforcement, DID, Faith communities, Business, Neighborhood groups, Court system (which is changing, still), Social service providers.

WHAT CAN YOU DO  —  ACTION STEPS:

  • See the humanity of the individual in front of you
    • Say “Hello” –  don’t treat the person as invisible
  • Educate yourself on the systemic causes of homelessness
    • Day In The Life (see the reference below)
  • Advocate for a Human response to a humanitarian crisis
    • Reach out to elected officials to push for more funding for housing of several kinds
  • Donate to Groups Addressing Homelessness
  • Volunteer
    • Meal groups
  • Call the St. Stephens community line to inform them of individuals needing support.
    • St. Stephens / 2309 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis MN 55404   ph.(612) 879-7624

https://ststephensmpls.org/learn-advocate/day-lifehttps://ststephensmpls.org/donatehttps://ststephensmpls.org/learn-advocate/what-should-i-do-ifhttps://ststephensmpls.org/handbooks
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS on the Q&A
Q:   Many shelters require a person to be completely substance free.   What would be a step in the right direction if this is a problem A:  There has been a shift in the last 4 years to move away from sobriety-based shelter.  Currently, 1 floor of Salvation Army, two shelters operated by St. Stephens (1st Covenant downtown and St. Stephens in South Mpls.), Simpson and Our Savior’s all are non-sober (folks can’t be actively using, but they can come in after using), Elim was more stringent, but that is now loosening up.Q: What percent of homeless are working jobs?A: Huffman uses the range 35-40% of folks using the shelter have jobs.    The unfortunate part of that is that 1) Some folks are working labor, temporary or cash only jobs,  which are  inconsistent; 2) Some are working minimum wage jobs, which is not enough to be able to afford an apartment  (someone working minimum wage must work between 80 and 95 hours a week to be able to rent a one BR)  3) Some some better paying jobs were working 3rd shifts, but then people needed a safe place to sleep during the day.   Recently, Hennepin County began to support shelters so they could be open 24/7, so 3rd shift workers could also have a safe place to sleep during the day.Q: Compound question:  have funds been allocated to fund MPHA to retrofit and occupy Elliot Towers?  What is the cost per unit for  resident housing?A: When you are talking about affordable housing, Huffman focuses on people earning 0-15% of Area Median Income.  The units that are being put up are for 50-60% and up to 80% of Area Median Income — AMI.  Even though that is  considered “affordable” for the general population, this is not attainable for the people St. Stephens and other shelters are serving in their programs.Q: How do we solve the issue of homelessness?  We’re providing more and more services but how do we solve the problem?   Do we offer more employment?   Asker is concerned that providing services turns us into enablers.A: It has to be “Both – And”.  There is a subset of the population that can work. There is a significant portion, 30-40% that are on Social Security or Disability; they have been determined by the government to be unable to work enough hours to be able to afford housing.   The government is giving them in the neighborhood of $700-800 a month, which is not enough to afford housing.  In the 1980s, the government divested from affordable housing (which only took 25-30% of a person’s income for rent).  Now we’re seeing the ramifications of that:  the infrastructure of that 1980 apartment is crumbling; affordable buildings were sold to commercial investors who didn’t care for their property.  Nationwide, we have a shortage of  7.5 million affordable housing units.  As our units crumble or disappear, we have more and more people homeless.  When we provide “shelter” we push people from place to place but ignore what they need to feel safe and welcome — people need to want to go inside. This summer, Hennepin  County has provided a range of services, but the result was pushing people from one place to another, separating them from resources that they might be able to access.   Currently, in unsheltered camps, there is an HIV outbreak.  The CDC has stated that moving people from camp to camp is NOT a best practice.  It’s not a best practice putting people in congregate sites.   Yet Hennepin County is doing those things.  We need more money, but different allocation of it.
Q: Do people come to our area because of the benefits we offer? 
A:  A study of general population inflow and outflow compared with people who are homeless found there was no significant difference between groups.   So: yes we have good benefits and services, but no, that is not why people are coming here.  People come because they have family here, they grew up here, they heard of a job opportunity. 
Q: St. Stephens is offering 24 hour services but the Salvation Army is still asking people to leave 8AM to 8PM.   Some are providing lunch, but between Covid-19 and cold weather coming, there isn’t much for many people.  Asker helped run the Boom Island Camp, and relayed that getting people to services they need is piecemeal and difficult. 
A: Huffman reported that currently, Safebay and Sally’s have been running night-by-night, not 24/7.   They are working on moving to 24 hour open, but have not been able to provide that yet.   Right now,  Safebay is being renovated, so it will be January before they can shift to 24 hours.   Guests at Safebay and Sally’s can have meals on site. 
Q: What is the cost of constructing ONE unit of housing? (studio or small 1-br)A: It’s in the neighborhood of  $230,000, for new construction of affordable housing.  He doesn’t have any info about retrofit.Q: What’s the status of the project where Minneapolis is building micro-units in a warehouse? What’s the cost of that?A:  Huffman has not seen a final cost of that.   The city is moving forward and hope to have it usable by the end of the year.   That will be around 100 units.  [EQ: but the SS count of unsheltered people in Jan. 2019,  was 732, see above]
Q: Instead of providing these units, does it make sense to provide these individuals $300-$400 to go into existing units in the city?A:  There was a pilot project, each person was presented with a check (perhaps) $7000.  They were NOT surprised to find that many did not find housing.  Many homeless people have flags in their background.   A background check will uncover a previous offense.   Again,we have  a very tight market in affordable housing; less than 2% of affordable units are vacant. Just throwing dollars is only part of a bigger solution.Chiming in to the answer by someone who works to find housing for clients:   The county gives perimeters: she may look for a 4BR house for a family of 6, at $1600/month.   She has a long list of landlords who are willing to work with her, but they have few vacancies.  If a client has an  eviction history, or felony in past history, and it gets more complicated.Q: In the past, a relative had an apartment in a subsidized building that had rent based on income: 25% of income, with a cap at market rate.  What happened to that?A. President Reagan shifted that resource into other things: War on Drugs and similar services.  

The Youtube recording of this meeting is here:   https://youtu.be/5DpZkdKvNhI


Emilie Quast, Board member
MPD Second Precinct Advisory Council (2-PAC)
Minneapolis MN 55418
e-quas@tc.umn.edu
Attachments area Preview YouTube video 2PAC Meeting November 2020- “Unsheltered Populations and St. Stephen’s Outreach”

2-PAC Nov. report, part 2

COURTWATCH.   County Attorney Sandra Filardo, presenting:  

UPDATES

  • Kelli Durow (aka Tamera Hoveland) –  In custody on $12,000 bail.  12/08/2020 Hearing on Rule 20 return and 12/11/2020 Pretrial.
  • Samuel Hasse – In custody/HWB.  11/23/2020 hearing on Felony possession of burglary tools, and 11/24/2020 hearing on 5th Degree Assault, theft, 4th Degree damage to property, tamper vehicles, disorderly conduct.
  • Daniel Heacock – Did not appear for his  08/11/20 hearing for theft and check forgery in the 1st Precinct.  He now has an active Bench Warrant.  Heacock has been found incompetent in the past.
  • Cody Horton – Presently in Mental Health Court on 27CR1877174 for Reckless Discharge of Firearm within a Municipality. Doing well in Mental Health Court and currently residing and supervised in Stearns County.  No new cases.  Review hearing 11/19/20.
  • Christian Klockeman – Pled on 9/22/20 in Mental Health Court to Felony Threats of Violence-Reckless Disregard Risk.  Sentenced to St. Cloud Correctional Facility for 24 months, all stayed for 3 years.  No new cases and all accompanying misdemeanors cases were dismissed.  Under court supervision; review hearing 11/09/2020.
  • Joshua Poplawski – Released from Work House 10/30/2020.  11/30 arraignment for 10/20 5th Degree Assault.  11/30 first appearance for 10/26 GM trespass. 1/5/21 arraignment for 9/10/ trespass. 12/09/2020 first appearance for 12/22/19 GM trespass.  1/5/2021 arraignment for 3/2/20 trespass.  12/09/20 pretrial for 3/0/20 GM trespass.1/5/21 arraignment for 2/4/20 trespass.  He has 40 city-wide contacts since 1995, 24 police contacts in the 2nd precinct since 2003, 17 prior convictions.
  • Kirk Robledo –  On bench warrant status for failure to appear at court hearing on 10/6/20.  No updates or further cases.
  • Michael Zaccardi – In custody, $40,000 bail.   11/16/20 pretrial for 7/13/20 felony 5th degree assault. 11/16/20 probation violation hearing; was using drugs in violation of his probation agreement.  Probation officer was working to get the defendant placed in a chemical dependency program. 

NO UPDATES

  • Richard Breen – Attended his 9/30/20 out-of-custody pre-trial date in Restorative Court and the matters were continued until 11/18/20.  He also has an arraignment date on 12/17/20 for a trespass he picked up downtown on 7/27/20.
  • Tanner DeWitt – Released from Department of Corrections on 9/14/20 and under parole supervision until 2/21/21.
  • Johnny Hall –   Discharge from probation, 9/17/2020.  No new cases.
  • Daniel Heacock – Did not appear for his  08/11/20 hearing for theft and check forgery in the 1st Precinct.  He now has an active Bench Warrant.  Heacock has been found incompetent in the past.
  • Paula Heile – remains on probation until 7/12/21. No further updates.
  • Miles Shaw  – Parole ended on 9/25/20.  Defendant is no longer under Department of Corrections jurisdiction.  No updates or new cases.
  • Leslie Wade – On bench warrant status for failure to appear at 9/30/20 hearing on several open cases.  No updates or new cases.

Emilie raised the question of how our current system for low level offenders is working.   Looking at Joshua Poplawski, since his last release from custody, he has picked up  many more citations and has court dates stretching out to 2021.  Emilie pointed out that current procedures do not seem to be working well for Mr. Poplawski since he remains homeless and vulnerable on the streets, and she’s not sure it’s working out for the rest of us either. 

Atty. Filardo responded that the law was not written by social workers or mental health workers.   The law was written to protect a person’s Constitutional right for a fair trial, which means he must understand the procedure and be able to participate in his own defense.

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

The full statute can be read here:  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/court_rules/cr/id/20/
STATE OF THE PRECINCT:
Inspector Loining joined us to share some of the work they’re doing.    Most of the work right now is property crimes. Crime maps for the last two weeks suggest more robberies, burglaries, and thefts of motor vehicles and from vehicles, still centered in Dinkytown and along the University and Central Avenue corridors. There has also been a spate of theft in high rise apartment buildings, including from the garages.   People use automatic garage door openers, drive in and look for a place to park.  Often there is a delay before the door closes again, and that delay is enough time for someone to zip into the garage and look for things to steal from cars.  Also, a lot of bicycles are being taken from underground garages, even the ones secured with kryptonite locks. 

Inspector Loining and CPS Juarez and CPS Ali did a security inspection of a new apartment building in near NE, and got to suggest faster closing of the garage door, and to talk about security cameras, lighting and signage.   Some of the high rises are willing to hire private security staff. 

Auto theft is a rising concern but in the University area, mo-peds are very popular among students and theft is rising for them, as well.   In the last week, the 2nd Precinct had 19 auto thefts, 13 of them in Marcy Holmes. and 6 of the 13 were taken with keys or left idling.   Theft from motor vehicle:  the Inspector related that 28 years ago when he started in a squad car in the 2nd Precinct, theft from motor vehicle was a constant problem; nothing’s changed, it still is.
Theft from apartments seems to happen in clusters when someone is having a party in a building, and people in the building leave their apartments unlocked because it’s in “their building”.   

However, there is more activity moving into the residential areas in NE.   Waite park had three garage burglaries in a small area, and all three were forced entry.  Officers are rolling through more alleys looking for unlocked garages or other issues.  If they see an open garage, they have a special placard to hang on it, reminding people to lock the garage doors, too.

Inspector Loining called attention to three robbery of persons in the last week and one very concerning car jacking at 1319 Marshall St. NE.   There was also a robbery at 15th and 7th Street SE; the criminals fled in a car, and a witness got the license number.   The problem was that it was a stolen car.  One more robbery at 2813, 4th St. SE.  Two of these were strong arm, no weapons involved and in the third, the victim was sprayed with Mace.  There were also three aggravated assaults, meaning with a weapon that could inflict bodily harm (a part 1 crime).   One at 2100 East Hennepin, a person was threatening with a knife and officers made an arrest.  One at 1540 New Brighton Boulevard, was at Cub Foods and was between co-workers, not stranger on stranger.   A third was at 620 Central, the Holiday Station.  Someone walked up to a person and smashed him in the face with hot coffee!

One more: 1620 Central Ave. has had a number of thefts.   CPS Ali has been working with management on increasing security in that building. 

Then, a success story.   UPS has had a number of thefts of packages; the total valuation was $15,000!   The Precinct assisted with the investigation, and discovered a former employee had done the theft.  Officers stopped him in his vehicle, and were able to recover much of the stolen material. 

Inspector Loining closed with an affirmation that, despite all the news about people leaving the MPD, the officers of the Second Precinct remain a solid team, committed to keeping the Second Precinct the safest place in Minneapolis.   Officers want to serve, they want to protect,

Last minute announcement:  Check out  Operation Safety Now.   There is a website, https://www.safetynowmpls.com/  and they were covered in a KARE-ll story which is linked to the home page.  Check them out.  The website includes tabs at the top:  Talking Points, Take Action, News and Updates. 

Q:  Has the MPD ever tried putting alerts or reports out on social media.  
A:  There was a small trial a few weeks ago, yve you

On a brighter note, with the advent of cold weather, bike thefts are way down.