By Barbara Bach
During the summer months, temperatures and crimes rise. The most important action residents can take to keep homes and kids safe is to stay connected with each other. Neighbors don’t have to be best friends, they just have to look out for each other, be aware of neighborhood activity and address issues together.
Minneapolis has block clubs or circles that connect neighbors and meet at least twice a year, including National Night Out, held the first Tuesday in August. Neighbors meet other times during the year to talk about immediate concerns ranging from illegal drug sales on their streets, to identifying problem areas and planning security enhancements such as alley lights. Some meet just to have fun and build relationships.
Most block clubs have a leader or two that keeps a phone tree up-to-date with neighbors’ contact info and preferred method of communications (email or flyers delivered to their doors). They pass along crime alerts, police advisories, crime statistics, neighborhood association news, and miscellaneous things like lost dogs or garage sales. Crime Prevention Specialists from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) liaise with block clubs and neighbor circles to prevent and resolve issues, set up a Neighborhood Watch, or announce training and share tips about home and personal safety and other topics of interest. (More on that later.)
Home security recommendations include:
Keep doors locked, even if you are in the back of your unit/house; install improved door and window locks; install stronger doors and strike plates; have neighbor, USPS, newspaper, or apartment office pick up/stop mail and home deliveries; use timed lighting; remove ladders near upper windows, secure basement windows; keep shrubs trimmed, minimize hiding places, keep lawns cut; put up fencing; keep numbers for police precinct, neighbors and 911 handy; stay in the loop with block clubs; get a free home security check from MPD Crime Prevention Specialists; go to a free home security demonstration (minneapolismn.gov/police/crime-prevention/ or call MPD); inventory or photograph valuables; and install home alarm systems.
Who to call and when:
For non-urgent issues about crime and safety call the 4th Precinct at 612-673-5704 and ask to speak with your Crime Prevention Specialist. You can also call 311.
Call 911 for officers and squad car if a crime a crime is in process or you see suspicious activity (gun shots, alarms going off, shouts for help, breaking glass); or noisy assembly, fights, loud music. State the problem, describe briefly, and give exact address if possible. Call 911 back for a status report if necessary. Know calls are handled in priority of what poses the most danger. If still not satisfied, call the precinct at 612-673-5704 and ask to speak with a shift supervisor.
If witnessing prostitution or drug activity:
Call the Community Response Team, MPD, 612-673-5707. Give exact address time/days, your name and phone number, suspect name and description, and if possible, describe drug being sold and vehicle of major suspect along with license plate number.
To find out who your block club leader is, or to volunteer to be a block club leader or block circle facilitator:
There are block clubs in all the seven neighborhoods of the Camden Community. Check the Camden News map on page 8 and identify your neighborhood, then check both pages 8 and 9 for information on your neighborhood association. (You can find this information in every issue of Camden News.) Call your neighborhood association or your MPD Crime Prevention Specialist. If you live north of Dowling Avenue, it is Tim Hammett, 612-673-2866, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you live south of Dowling Avenue, it is Rick Maas, 612-673-3725, email@example.com. These are good sources of information regarding who to call for a host of other things, from disputes with neighbors to abandoned and unmaintained homes, inhumane treatment of animals, lost pets, cars regularly speeding on your street, etc.
Finally, remember that personal relationships and crime prevention go hand-in-hand – they are keys to safety no matter what the season. We are as strong as the bonds between our neighbors, and neighborhood institutions and businesses. Small actions by many do matter, and we remain safe by staying united.