Police Layoffs Could Hit Southwest Hard
Neighborhoods are losing two crime prevention specialists.
Cuts to the Minneapolis Police Department's 2012 budget, first laid out two weeks ago, are still only a proposal. But that hasn't stopped some Southwest residents from worring their neighborhoods will lose out.
The cuts would mean the loss of five of the city's 18 Crime Prevention Specialists in order to preserve the jobs of officers walking the patrol beat. Because of seniority rules at the police department, Southwest would lose its two current specialists, Amy Lavender and Chelsea Adams. They would be replaced by two specialists from elsewhere in the city.
Kassie Church, a block club leader in the Lyndale neighborhood, said she's dreading the "huge learning curve" that would face potential replacements for Southwest's two specialists.
"It’s not just learning the neighborhood, the blocks, the bad buildings, and the criminals," Church said. "It’s also learning the people. Like, 'Who is this Kassie Church? Is she crazy or is she telling the truth (about neighborhood crime)?'"
Police Department spokesperson Sgt. William Palmer said specific impacts of any cuts depend on the city council's final vote.
"Everything’s under discussion at this point," he said. "(The existance of a proposal) doesn’t mean anything’s going to be approved."
The Minneapolis City Council will vote on the final package of cuts to all city departments on Dec. 14.
Chris DeParde, a former chair of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association's Crime Prevention and Safety committee, said learning the dynamics of his neighborhood and resident troublemakers can be a daunting challenge. DeParde, who led the committee when Lavender and Adams arrived on their jobs, said it took around a year for the specialists to know their turf.
Sarah Gleason, Project Organizer for the neighborhood association, said the specialists serve as vital links between her neighborhood organization and the police department as each side tries to solve crime problems, ranging from a recent spate of burglaries through past reports of mobile drug dealing.
"Having that person who’s able to access all the resources of the department and the city” is valuable, Gleason said. "Otherwise, the MPD can be pretty impenetrable."
Southwest's two specialists are more than just coordinators, said Church. They lend additional set of eyes and ears for the department through relationships that take a long time to develop.
"It really is those relationships, building trust," Church said. "There are a lot of people who won’t call 911 every time there’s a drug deal, but they’ll send Amy (Lavender) an email because they know her."