Written by Shane Zahn, Director of Safe Initiatives at the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District
The Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (MDID) is committed to working with the downtown community to create a safe environment for those who live, work, play, visit, and explore here. Through the Minneapolis SafeZone Collaborative, the MDID works with public, private, and non-profit organizations as well as law enforcement and outreach groups to achieve its safety goals. There are resources available to you in downtown through these SafeZone initiatives, and MDID invites you to take part in or learn about these resources so you can fully enjoy and experience downtown.
Below is a Top 10 list of SafeZone Collaborative efforts that help keep downtown a safe, vibrant, and thriving environment. You can also read the MDID’s Annual Report (www.minneapolisdid.com/reports) for more information on its greening, cleaning, and safety initiatives.
#1: MDID Ambassadors & Safety Patrol
The MDID Ambassadors are friendly faces here in downtown—people who are approachable and welcoming. They can offer suggestions for things to do, help with directions, and even open doors for you if your hands are full. But they are also a group that helps keep downtown safe by keeping a watchful eye on the streets. If you see something you wish to report, the MDID Ambassadors will be able to assist you. MDID Ambassadors are a wide variety of people with a common love for downtown, and they’re here to help ensure a greener, cleaner, and safer downtown environment. MDID Ambassadors can be found Monday-Friday from 7 am-11 pm, Saturdays from 10 am-11 pm and Sundays from 10 am-6 pm. Last year, the MDID Ambassadors made 84,865 pedestrian assists, bagged 18,416 bags of trash and 2,967 bags of recycling, and they removed 16,740 gum spots. For more information about the Ambassadors, please contact Jeff Heinrich.
#2: MDID Fusion Center
MDID’s Fusion Center, located within the Minneapolis Police Department’s 1st Precinct, serves as a downtown safety information hub. Dispatch Ambassadors work inside the MDID Fusion Center 365 days a year, responding to pedestrian requests from Ambassadors on the street, tracking weather and emergency alerts, communicating with outreach services for people in need, monitoring public area cameras, and collaborating with private security. The MDID Fusion Center is a resource available for day-to-day needs as well as a major asset for overseeing big downtown events like the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2014. In 2015, the Fusion Center dispatched 50,330 MDID Ambassador hospitality assists and 270 Ambassador service responses. For more information on the MDID Fusion Center, call 612-332-1111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RadioLINK brings the private and public security partnership to life. The radio equipment is coordinated through the City of Minneapolis’ Radio Communications Electronics department. This is a valuable tool in expanding law enforcement’s reach as there are an estimated 13 private security officers for every one law enforcement officer on the street here in downtown. The MDID Fusion Center serves as the central point of the RadioLINK system, connecting officers directly with private security teams and outreach teams via a common radio channel. It also expands private security’s reach by connecting organizations to one another. The program currently links private security teams from approximately 60 downtown buildings, businesses, and venues together. In 2015, there were 5,475 collaborative communications via RadioLINK. For more information on RadioLINK, contact Shane Zahn.
#4: Downtown Camera Registry
The Downtown Camera Registry, which MDID helped launch in 2014, is a tool that connects the MDID Fusion Center with public and private security cameras throughout the downtown area. The Downtown Camera Registry offers a way to connect to private businesses’ security cameras to help with crime prevention, engagement, and enforcement. The downtown camera registry is funded by MDID and maintained through efforts of both MDID and Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) staff. There are currently more than 500 cameras on the registry, and in order to join the business or organization which owns the security camera must sign on. The Downtown Camera Registry tool offers video camera access to MPD that equates to more than $1.2 million in assets. The cameras, when needed, are viewable at MPD’s Strategic Information Center as well as at the MDID Fusion Center. There were 181 different cameras spanning 74 different companies from the Downtown Camera Registry used during investigations last year. The success of the Downtown Camera Registry led to law enforcement creating a city-wide spin-off effect for organizations to connect outside of downtown, and other law enforcement agencies are using it as well. For more information on the Downtown Camera Registry, please contact Shane Zahn.
#5: St. Stephen’s Street Outreach
Working with St. Stephen’s Homeless Street Outreach, the MDID is focused on providing a place of first contact for individuals experiencing street homelessness and for community members who are concerned for them. The collaboration efforts help provide food, clothing, shelter, response to non-emergency calls, and more. The mission coincides with the Minneapolis Downtown Council’s Intersections: Downtown 2025 Plan initiative to end street homelessness in the city. For more information on this outreach program, please contact the MDID Fusion Center at 612-332-1111.
#6: MPD Police Reserves
The MDID and MPD worked together to create a new community engagement program collaborating with the MPD Police Reserves program. The program aims to increase police visibility along Nicollet Mall and in the Warehouse District during the summer and fall. Goals of the program include improving public safety efforts, security communication via RadioLINK, and both public and private collaborations. In 2015, the Police Reserves made 1,600 positive citizen contacts, 878 business contacts, 109 suspicious person stops, 30 medical responses, and 66 disturbance responses. View the 2015 MPD Police Reserves Recap at www.minneapolisdid.com/safezone.
#7: MDID/YCB Youth Street Outreach
The MDID and Youth Coordinating Board partner to provide a Street Outreach Program throughout the summer. The program connects youth with activities and resources along Nicollet Mall and the Warehouse District and aims to interrupt the behavior cycle for youth who are disruptive or disengaged downtown by connecting them to meaningful activities or resources. The Street Outreach Program’s overview runs weekdays from 5 pm-10 pm, June through September, and includes 3 teams of 2 youth outreach workers per day. Aside from being positive figures that help connect youth with positive activities, the Youth Engagement Teams also engage youth with the Minneapolis Central Library, provide information and resources, and even help connect youth to each other through bus tokens.
#8: YouthLINK Street Outreach
MDID teams with YouthLINK, an organization which serves as a critical resource for youth experiencing homelessness, on several outreach initiatives including a pilot Youth Outreach Program, started in Summer 2015. This program aimed to connect the city’s youth with resources needed to find independence. It involved young outreach employees who experienced homelessness as a way to help direct them to YouthLINK or another vital resource. Funding allowed this program to run through the end of 2016. YouthLINK, along with the Youth Coordinating Board, also collaborated with MDID on other initiatives in the past like the Youth Outreach Tent, which provides an opportunity for youth in need to have conversations and access resources they might be missing in their day-to-day lives. For more information on this outreach program, please contact the MDID Fusion Center at 612-332-1111.
#9: Downtown 100 Chronic Offenders
The Downtown 100 Chronic Offenders program allows a dedicated prosecutor and probation officer to be assigned to up to the top 100 downtown offenders. It is a collaboration between the MDID, MPD, Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office, Hennepin County Community Corrections, St. Stephen’s Human Services, the Salvation Army, 1st Precinct neighborhood associations, and other community and businesses and stakeholders. It also includes provision of housing and treatment services for offenders in need of assistance. Last year, there was a 72 percent reduction in crime by the Downtown 100 offenders within the MDID boundaries. That is the sixth straight year of a reduction of 70 percent or more. View the 2015 Downtown 100 Chronic Offenders recap at www.minneapolisdid.com/safezone. For information on the Downtown 100 program, please contact Heidi Johnston.
#10: MDID/MPD Safety Workshops
MDID and MPD work closely together to facilitate safety workshops throughout the year. These complimentary, on-site personal safety workshops are aimed toward helping businesses, employees, and residents of the downtown community learn safety trends, prevention tips, and available resources. Safety training workshops include Intro to Personal Safety, Advanced Personal Safety Training, Personal Safety & Public Transportation, and Self Defense for Cyclists. They work for new businesses moving into downtown or long-time downtown businesses who want to continue ensuring their employees’ safety. Last year, MDID conducted 70 workshops. For more information on Safety Workshops or to schedule one for your team, contact Renee Allen.