Forty-two years ago, in the mid-1970s, the University of Minnesota’s marching band played below ice-sculpted trees on a frozen Minnesota lake. As Mayor Jacob Frey will tell you, “Nothing good ever happened to the university’s band at that time.”
Chief police Paul Schnell, who took the helm a few months ago after five decades as a key state official, told reporters last week that bad weather was contributing to a sharp rise in crime in Minneapolis and St. Paul — not all of it drug-related. Illegal dumping was becoming a serious problem. Now St. Paul, once quite crime-free, has been attacked by trucks and vandals.
“We’re trying to create safety zones to make sure we do a great job on the day-to-day side of crime reduction,” Chief Schnell said. “This phenomenon we’re seeing is coming from all corners, not just drugs or people fighting on sidewalks,” he said. “It’s overall insecurity; individuals who feel unsafe in their daily lives. It’s an under attack.”
Said Mayor Frey, a former lobbyist for St. Paul’s school district: “That’s why we have a strong downtown police force, that’s why we’re putting a lot of resource into our foot patrols in our [corridors] — binginging, dancing, shopping, kids and business, tourists, domestic and international residents all coming together, and someone comes in and assaults people, it has a completely negative impact on the whole community.”
St. Paul’s residents have seen a rise in assaults, in some cases gang-related, said Mark Hughes, a police detective in the city’s central patrol bureau. Gangs are more assertive and violence more frequent, said Hughes, who was part of the 1986 band attack.
St. Paul has launched a “safety and security” campaign as the first move in a planned multiyear police effort.
“We want people to know we’re out there, and we’re going to address it,” Chief Schnell said.
Read the full story at Newsday.
Amid shortfalls, St. Paul aims to zero in on crime
Campus police race to curb violence on St. Paul’s campuses
St. Paul residents say police are too quick to crack down on neighbors