Missed the 3rd Precinct Community Safety Center Information Session? Watch the video below or watch it on YouTube. Please note, there will be a couple of gaps in the video. They are not edits, simply the camera person taking a break a moment when nothing was happening. A brief synopsis has been provided below. If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Thursday, November 16th Longfellow Community Council held a community information session about the 3rd Precinct Safety Center at 2633 Minnehaha Avenue. Council members Robin Wonsley (Ward 2), Jason Chavez (Ward 9), and Jamal Osman (Ward 6) answered questions posed by LCC and by community members in an effort to provide clarity around the building’s future and provide context for how we got to this point. Thank you to those Council Members for coming out and talking with community.
This spring the City of Minneapolis held Community Engagement Sessions about the 3rd Precinct. Instead of being an open conversation with the community, City officials changed the nature of these conversations, asking community members to choose between two predetermined 3rd Precinct sites – 3000 Minnehaha Ave (the former 3rd Precinct site) and 2600 Minnehaha Ave (a city owned lot down the street). The conversations were traumatic, angering, and disappointing for many residents.
A resolution was passed from Council that stated there would not be a precinct at either location, 3000 Minnehaha or 2600 Minnehaha. Council Member Chavez authored a budget earmark of $265,000 for the Truth and Reconciliation process to be undergone by the Minneapolis Police Department as was agreed upon in 2020. These were things community needed and spoke about during those initial engagement sessions.
Despite the community’s objections and Council’s resolution, over the last month the Mayor has asked the Council to approve the co-location option outside the 3rd Precinct, Lake and Minnehaha, and the 2600 Minnehaha location.
This led to Council Members Koski, Osman, Chavez, Johnson, and Wonsley to create a Legislative Directive which would allow Council access to other sites considered. This is where the sites 2633 Minnehaha Ave South and 3716 Cheatham Ave South came up. The 3716 Cheatham Ave South area was a proposal brought forward by Council Member Chavez. This motion failed 8-5.
Safety Center at 2633 Minnehaha Ave
Mayor Frey proposed the 2633 Minnehaha location ‘last minute’ before the November 2nd City Council meeting. That location had a ton of community apprehension when it was initially considered in 2020 and still does today. Community members had protested this site in 2020 and the owner eventually took the property off the market. The mayor did not fully commit to opening it as a Community Safety Center on day one, but was open to adding a safety center component ‘eventually’.
City Council voted to authorize staff to pursue the location at 2633 Minnehaha Ave and design options on November 2nd, it passed 8-5. The estimated cost is $10 million to purchase, plus an additional $4 million to build out for the 3rd Precinct. Additionally, there would be a cost to fit the needs of the safety center at this site. The City is looking to have the precinct fully operational in fall of next year. Adding other services is estimated to bring the cost to around $22 million, although it is impossible to actually predict the cost given that there are no specific proposals around what non-policing services would be there. City projects routinely run over budget. Taxpayers should realistically expect to spend in the range of $30-$40 million for this site- all without a guarantee that the police within it will be reformed.
Although the mayor is calling it a Community Safety Center, the change in name only came when there was pushback from the community against a return to the status quo. Without the funding to support the vision of City Council, the new name is nothing more than a rebrand.
In an effort to make sure that the new precinct includes comprehensive safety services, Council passed the resolution brought by Council Members Koski and Osman, expressing the council’s commitment to the development of a Community Safety Center at 2633 Minnehaha Ave, which will now include both Community Safety functions and the 3rd Precinct. While this is a non-binding resolution, Council is currently working to allocate funds to the Community Safety functions of this site, as there are currently not enough funds to purchase the building, nor are there any allocations for the Community Safety aspect.
Council Member Wonsley created a Legislative Directive to help hold the administration accountable to the specifics of how 2633 Minnehaha will help realize the Safe and Thriving Communities continuum of services, how it will engage the community, and how it will serve residents. This legislative directive passed unanimously and the report will be presented to Council in January 2024.
During the meeting Council Members Osman, Chavez and Wonsley expressed that they are committed to getting the Community Safety component funded. The precinct will be going in, there is no changing that at this point, but Council wants to use this building as a beginning of transformation for our city’s safety system. Council members made it clear that due to the change in government structure as passed by voters in 2021, Council has limited power beyond the budgeting process. They can allocate funding but most decisions will be made from the Mayors office.
Community members expressed reservations about having safety services in the precinct building, especially because MPD has not shown any indication of reform (MPD has violated its consent degree) and there is still continued trauma people in our community feel being in proximity to police.
The council members in attendance said that the Safety Center is a step toward a more comprehensive look at community safety, and without this directive, we will just get a precinct. The investment and hope from Council is that this can start to build trust in the community, but MPD still has to be held responsible.
The Commissioner of the Office of Community Safety confirmed that the goal was to move the police into 2633 Minnehaha, then evaluate possible unspecified other services joining in the future. He couldn’t give Council a guarantee that it would eventually integrate other alternative safety services, such as BCR (Behavioral Crisis Response) mental health responders, youth diversion programs, or restorative and victim services. Ideas that were mentioned included a food pantry or a drivers’ license renewal center.
The state of Minnesota has contributed $19 million to the City of Minneapolis explicitly for public safety, according to the Council members present. They stated that Mayor Frey wants to use some of this money for police retention and recruitment, which was received by a round of boos from the residents in attendance. Council said they are working to use it for other safety initiatives and reforms, including $4 million for the Safety Center.
A community member asked why Council, in spite of the MPD’s violation of their consent degree, would pass $198 million to fund MPD in the new year. Council members shared that they are legally obligated to fund at least 731 police officers, under the Minneapolis City Charter due to a Minnesota Supreme Court case that challenged MPD was too understaffed to perform its duties.
The 3rd Precinct at 2633 Minnehaha will be moving forward. Although many in the community don’t want to see the precinct here, or don’t want to see it back at all, Council is hoping this can be an opportunity for community members to organize and come to City officials with a vision for a Safety Center that is based on what the community wants. LCC is working to create a Community Benefits Agreement with help from our community. A Community Benefits agreement is a non-binding ‘contract’ with the City that will lay out what the community wants and can be used to hold Council and the Mayor’s office accountable as they move forward with plans for the precinct and for community safety in Minneapolis.