More cops, more outreach are part of plans to improve Hennepin Avenue

Although violent crime downtown has fallen, drunkenness and catcalling has been on the rise.

Minneapolis community leaders including Mayor Betsy Hodges have revealed a new plan to tackle crime on Hennepin Avenue.

The famous downtown strip is a nightlife haven, and that brings with it the potential for violence, theft and public drunkenness.

But a new strategy released by the City on Thursday focuses on how to improve things during the daytime hours, highlighting the "livability issues" that impair the downtown experience for those living and visiting the neighborhood.

These include incidences of drunkenness and catcalling that according to the report are on the rise along Hennepin Avenue, even though the downtown crime rate on a whole has been falling – including violent crime.

The most visible change you can expect to see from the new plan is the extra beat cops Minneapolis PD is adding to "encourage positive interactions with residents, commuters and visitors." Metro Transit PD will also have more officers out and about in the area.

And to further improve safety and the atmosphere along the street, the following strategies will be rolled out:

  • Outreach workers from several organizations will be out on the street speaking with the homeless, young people and individuals "engaging in problematic behaviors."
  • The street scene along Hennepin Ave. will be "more active" via environmental design projects, "creative engagement at bus stops" and a return for the "Pianos on Parade" program – which you can read more about here.
  • Supporting efforts at the state level to give officers the power to enforce court orders restricting some convicted criminals from being in areas where they repeatedly offend – including downtown.

The plan is the result of several months of discussions between a whole host of city leaders, community groups and business representatives who are set on improving the downtown area and making it a more attractive place for people to live and visit.

This comes at a time when the Minneapolis Downtown Council wants to double the number of people living downtown to 70,000 by 2025, as the Star Tribune reported.

Among those involved is Steve Cramer, president and CEO of Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, which said real and perceived safety was the "top priority" of business owners in the community.

And Melvin Tennant, CEO of Meet Minneapolis, said it's important that the city maximizes the draw of the Hennepin Ave. theater and arts district, which he describes as one of the city's "best features."

"Making sure the area is safe and welcoming is vital to the wellbeing of our downtown," he said in a news release.

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