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Mpls. leaders aim to make Hennepin Ave. downtown safer

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Workers with the Downtown Improvement District are already on Henn. Ave.
Workers with the Downtown Improvement District are already active on Hennepin Avenue, here in the blue jacket. Under a new plan, they will be posted along with police officers on the street during morning and afternoon commutes.
Solvejg Wastvedt | MPR News

Minneapolis officials are stepping up patrols and outreach along Hennepin Avenue in the city's downtown.

The plan launches this weekend and aims to improve safety and reduce incidents like public intoxication and catcalling. It includes increased law enforcement presence as well as extra outreach from organizations like the city's Youth Coordinating Board and the Minneapolis MAD DADS group.

"We cannot simply arrest our way out of this challenge. While the presence of law enforcement remains an important piece of maintaining livability on Hennepin Avenue, it cannot by itself make Hennepin Avenue feel safe," Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges told reporters Thursday.

Mayor Betsy Hodges outlines a plan to improve daytime safety on Henn. Ave.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges outlines a plan set to launch this weekend to improve safety on Hennepin Avenue in the city's downtown.
Solvejg Wastvedt | MPR News

Under the plan, police officers and employees of the city's Downtown Improvement District will be posted on each block of the street's downtown section during morning and afternoon commutes.

"Yes, we can arrest, and the expectation is if that engagement component deems an arrest then that's what we'll do. If it deems connecting with a social service partner to address the long-term issues of homelessness then that's what we will do," police chief Janeé Harteau said.

Officials also aim to increase activities along Hennepin Avenue, including bringing back the "Pianos on Parade" project that posts instruments around downtown for public use.