Minneapolis plans community safety center, police precinct under same roof

woman with microphone
Amanda Harrington with the Minneapolis Office of Community Safety leads a discussion with residents at the Powderhorn Park Recreation Center on Wednesday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

The city of Minneapolis is moving forward with plans for two new community safety centers along the Lake Street corridor. One is expected to house the new 3rd Precinct police station and would also include social service agencies.

City leaders gathered feedback Wednesday night from residents of the area. Some said putting the police station and social services in the same location is a bad idea, including Frank Paro, who was among six dozen people who took part in the community feedback session at the Powderhorn Recreation Center.

Paro is co-director of the American Indian Movement and has been with the Native advocacy group for more than 50 years. 

“The people that I know, that I help in south Minneapolis, they don’t want to be seen walking into a police station,” he said.

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Paro said there are many employment centers, clinics and other social service agencies already serving people in south Minneapolis. He said he’d like to see small police stations set up in neighborhoods. 

Russ Adams, a Powderhorn Park resident who leads corridor recovery initiatives for the Lake Street Council, said combined community safety centers are an idea worth trying. 

“If you keep the social service operators and the interventionists separate from the police and the police never get a chance to sit down and break bread with community, you’re never going to establish the healthy relationships that we need,” he said.

a man walks in front of an empty building
The former Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct building sits empty at the corner of Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue on March 12.
Aaron Nesheim | Sahan Journal

Police abandoned the 3rd Precinct when rioters broke in and torched part of the building in the days after George Floyd's murder in 2020.

While the future of that building — at Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue — has yet to be determined, its replacement is slated to open by early next year. In January, the city signed a purchase agreement for an industrial building at 2633 Minnehaha Ave., a few blocks north.

Once renovations are done, third precinct officers will move there from their temporary headquarters downtown. The social service agencies housed in the building will depend on what residents request. Some of those ideas include housing, employment and addiction treatment resources. 

“We have a lot of really exciting ideas that have come from community about how spaces could be used. And just narrowing that list down is going to help me give a clear answer to everyone else about what the plan is going forward,” said Amanda Harrington, Director of Design and Implementation with the Minneapolis Office of Community Safety.

an empty building with no trespassing sign
The city of Minneapolis plans to open the South Minneapolis Community Safety Center, which will include Minneapolis police's 3rd Precinct offices, at 2633 Minnehaha Ave. The city plans to buy the site, pictured on March 12, by June 1.
Aaron Nesheim | Sahan Journal

Council Member Jason Chavez — who represents the area — said he’d like to see staff from the city’s behavioral crisis response team work from the south side. 

“Right now they’re housed out of northeast Minneapolis. And they may have to come from northeast Minneapolis all the way to Lake St. when there are mental health responses. If there is a crisis happening with a mental health response, they could just operate right out of this area.” 

Before the permanent community safety center opens, the city plans to open a smaller, temporary storefront facility nearby on East Lake Street that will not have a full-time police presence. City staff are still in negotiations with the property owner, so they haven’t announced the exact location. That facility is expected to open this summer.