State and local officials deserved much of the criticism they received for their handling of the violence and destruction after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody last year.
Failure to act quickly and flawed communication created a public safety vacuum that allowed rioting, looting and vandalism that cost millions in damage. The evacuation and arson that destroyed the city's Third Precinct police station became a sort of poster child for that failure.
Fortunately, those same officials and agencies appear to have learned valuable lessons. They have stepped up to put smart security plans in place for the upcoming trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who was one of four cops involved in Floyd's arrest.
Jury selection in the Chauvin trial is scheduled to begin March 8. In preparation, visitors, workers and residents of Minneapolis will see a greater police and National Guard presence. And workers have already begun fortifying government buildings and police stations with concrete barriers and fencing.
During one of a series of public briefings early last week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey promised that the city and police will protect peaceful demonstrators. But they also plan to protect government buildings, businesses and other property.
And on Friday, the Minneapolis City Council voted 11-2 to allow the MPD to reach agreements with at least 14 other local law enforcement agencies for extra help. That could cost up to $1.5 million, but the city hopes to get state help to cover the costs.
The council also approved spending nearly $1.2 million to contract with community groups that will work with residents to ease tensions and prevent violence.
St. Paul officials also have wisely prepared for any possible spillover unrest from the trial in downtown Minneapolis. Nearly 1,000 law enforcement officers and first responders have had specialized training to handle problems that might occur.
St. Paul Police Deputy Chief Stacy Murphy told the City Council last week that the department's plans, which also include fencing, barricades and additional law enforcement presence, are designed to "protect people, protect property and protect free speech" during the Chauvin trial.
The SPPD is also part of an east metro response group that includes the city's Fire Department, the State Patrol, the National Guard and the sheriff's offices of Ramsey, Washington and Dakota counties. Murphy said protecting free speech is a top priority, but that violent, destructive behavior won't be tolerated.
The administrations of both cities have also offered advice to businesses and other property owners about improving lighting, boarding up windows and using security cameras. And they've been reaching out to community groups that work with young people and others to calm tensions and help prevent violence.
As Frey said during last week's briefing on trial preparations, a major difference between last May and now is "time." Knowing that the trial and possibility of unrest was coming, officials had months to prepare. It appears that the time was well-spent and that comprehensive, well-coordinated public safety plans are in place.
It's better to be overprepared to prevent violence and vandalism than have to deal with deaths, injuries or property damage after the fact.