Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and a group of local law enforcement officials announced a new strategy Thursday that they say will help thwart the rise of violent crime in the city.
Calling public safety "the paramount issue" in Minneapolis now, Frey outlined a plan he said will use data to more efficiently deploy the city's depleted resources into high-crime areas as part of a partnership of police, prosecutors and violence interrupters.
"Safety is not a priority right now on the agenda — it is the priority," he said. "It is the thing I think about every morning when I wake up. It is the last thing I think about before we go to sleep."
Frey announced "Operation Endeavor" at a news conference in downtown Minneapolis while standing alongside Minneapolis Public Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander, several police inspectors, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, U.S. Marshal Eddie Frizell and others. Although he offered few specifics, Frey said the strategy will focus on greater day-to-day partnerships among disparate city, county, state and federal agencies that will allow a more nimble approach with police staffing down.
"This is not a half-hearted approach," Frey said. "Every person that you see up here is all-in on this plan."
The announcement is the latest attempt from law enforcement leaders and elected officials to convince the public they have a handle on violent crime in Minneapolis — an issue that's become central to the upcoming midterm election. So far in 2022, the city has recorded 67 homicides, down from 76 at this time last year but significantly higher than Minneapolis' norm before 2020, according to a Star Tribune database. Shootings, carjackings and other violent crimes are also up in comparison to this time of the year in the decade before the pandemic.
Alexander said he's met with members of the partnership, including private business owners integral to the new strategy. He described Operation Endeavor as the "culmination of the charge I was given" when Frey and the City Council appointed him to the new post of public safety commissioner this summer. He said the multi-jurisdictional strategy will begin downtown and ripple throughout the city and nearby communities and that he will present progress reports and regular updates.
"We're using data to focus our resources in areas where criminal activity is most impacting the safety of those living, working or visiting the city of Minneapolis," Alexander said. "The effects of what we're going to do here is going to have citywide impact — to every citizen and every neighborhood in this community."
Prosecutor and former police officer Michael Radmer will embed with the city as part of the strategy, Freeman said.
Cmdr. Jason Case, who will coordinate the effort on the part of Minneapolis police, said relying on more data will be key to finding "emerging trends" and responding with patrols and undercover officers.
Trained violence interrupters will also be deployed to de-escalate and canvass in these areas, and other city staff will work with victims, said Jen White, community and interagency engagement manager for the city.
The Minneapolis Police Department is down more than 300 officers from two years ago, after a mass exodus following the police killing of George Floyd and burning of the Third Precinct. Frey said Thursday that the city is preparing to roll out a $1.2 million campaign to recruit officers, but there's "a ways to go" to replenish staff, which is why this new strategy is critical to addressing public safety.
At the same time, Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andy Luger is also devoting more federal resources to help curb the crime spike. Earlier this year, Luger announced he'd instructed all criminal prosecutors in his office to help crack down on violent crime, with an emphasis on indicting traffickers of illegal guns, gang members and car thieves.