State troopers to assist Minneapolis in fighting crime

Shooting hoops
Kids and cops shooting some basketball in the Hawthorne neighborhood in north Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Brandt Williams

The state has already allocated $1.5 million toward crime-fighting efforts in Minneapolis this year, and it will now use an additional $100,000 from the Department of Public Safety to pay for the extra troopers.

The troopers will be teamed with Minneapolis officers during the peak hours for crime, from Thursdays through Sundays for the remainder of the summer.

Gov. Pawlenty and Minneapolis officials
Gov. Pawlenty, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and acting police chief Tim Dolan announce the deployment of Minnesota state troopers to combat crime in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

Gov. Pawlenty says the deployment was an option he'd discussed with Minneapolis city officials earlier this year.

"We realize that Minneapolis and some other areas of the state have additional burdens to bear in terms of combating crime and public safety because of the challenges that certain neighborhoods face, for a variety of reasons," Pawlenty said. "We want to make sure that the resources that we deploy in those areas is as helpful and impactful as possible."

Those neighborhoods are located in north Minneapolis.

In 2003, Pawlenty sent 12 troopers there during a rash of violence that saw the wounding of a 19-month-old child who was hit by stray bullet fragment while sitting at home.

I feel that it's gotten a little better, but to me the little drug dealers are just a little too clever.

Interim Police Chief Tim Dolan was the 4th precinct commander in 2003 when the troopers came to help out. He says the troopers worked in north Minneapolis for several weeks. When things quieted down, he then sent them to another precinct.

"It was a very successful effort last time when we did this. We were seeing a similar rise in crime in the summer, and we were able to put a lid on that and halt that," said Dolan. "It was also very positive for the community. Very positive for the officers, from both agencies."

The Hawthorne neighborhood is one of those the troopers will patrol. One of them may well be paired with Mark Klukow, a Minneapolis police officer who's worked the north side for 11 years. Klukow was teamed with a State Trooper during the deployment in 2003.

"It was a great time. Teaching those guys how to do urban policing is fascinating. It's such a different job for them," said Klukow. "We both get in the car and we'd share stories, we got along really well, we have lunch together. There's no animosity there."

Klukow and some fellow officers are serving lemonade to the neighborhood kids on Thursday afternoon. Nearby, a few probation officers are cheering on young kids who are heaving basketballs nearly as big as their bodies up at a portable hoop.

The lemonade stand was Klukow's idea. He says the kids and the game temporarily disrupt the criminal activity in the area, plus it allows officers to connect with people they normally don't see in their day to day work.

Officer Mark Klukow
Minneapolis Police Officer Mark Klukow has patrolled the north side for 11 years, and worked with state troopers the last time they were deployed in north Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Brandt Williams

People like Mamie Watson, who lives down the block. She says it's a rare sight to see cops out of their cars and on the street.

"They don't walk enough, they drive a lot," said Watson. "I'm being honest. I've been here four years. You got some nice ones and you got some mean ones. You've got some who care and some that don't care."

Watson says she's moving out of Hawthorne soon, because she's tired of the groups of young men who stand at the corner near her house and sell drugs. Police say they will be able to add three more squad cars on the streets once the troopers start working. However Watson says the problem isn't the number of police officers.

"I feel that it's gotten a little better, but to me the little drug dealers are just a little too clever. It's just frustrating," she says.

Still, Watson says she's glad to see the officers out on the block, at least for the afternoon. She says she's had a chance to let some of them know about her frustrations. Watson says she wishes they'd do this every day.

Officer Mark Klukow says the basketball and lemonade events will take place every Friday.