Officials are continuing an effort this summer to make sure people feel safe in downtown Minneapolis.
The SafeZone Collaboration, which began in 2004, is a partnership between the Minneapolis Police Department, the Downtown Improvement District, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Metro Transit Police that aims to deter crime during the summer months by increasing police presence in the area, among other initiatives.
“We want people to feel safe while they are out enjoying all Downtown has to offer this summer,” Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said in a news release. “Our extra enforcement is our way of supporting that fun while letting criminals know they aren’t welcome to the party.”
The summer is the busiest time of year in Minneapolis, WCCO notes, and in 2015 people can expect to see an increased police presence on the streets, buses and trains.
“The perception of downtown was it wasn’t safe, and now we have both perception and reality [that] are the same,” Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said, WCCO reports.
This partnership has helped decrease robberies in the SafeZone by 20 percent and auto theft by 14 percent, the city's website notes.
However, KSTP says there has been an increase in overall crime since the collaboration began, which could be attributed to the "boom in development" downtown.
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Police building connection with kids
In another effort to connect with the community, the Minneapolis Police Department teamed up to build Little Free Libraries to place outside of a few precincts for the summer.
The Little Free Library movement is a free book exchange that's been sweeping the globe, and now police departments around the country are building these book houses hoping it will give the community a reason to talk to police when it's not an emergency situation.
“In today’s climate, there’s certainly mistrust and concern with police officers,” Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau told the Star Tribune. “And so this is a way to really support the good, hardworking officers out there and to keep them wanting to come back and do their job every day.”