In 2005, the Hopkins Chief of Police turned to the community for assistance to improve the quality of life in the Blake Road neighborhood. Although the crime rate in Hopkins is lower than Minneapolis, “There was…a disproportionate amount of crime and police calls along the [Blake Road] corridor,” remembers Mayor Molly Cummings. Residents, landlords, business owners, faith leaders, school officials, representatives from non-profit organizations, and local and county government officials formed the “Blake Road Corridor Stakeholders Group.” This group raises funds to add sidewalks, lights, garbage bins, and potted flowers on Blake Road; recreation facilities like basketball courts and soccer goal posts to Cottageville Park, and youth summer programming in city parks. As of 2010, the total number of crimes in the Blake Road area has decreased by 25% since 2006.
Established in 2005, the Joint Community Police Partnership (JCPP) is an “an award-winning, collaborative effort between Hennepin County and the cities of Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Hopkins, and Richfield.” Their mission is to enhance communication and understanding between law enforcement and multicultural residents of these cities. Since 2012, the crime rates in Hopkins have decreased by 19.2%. Multi-cultural training for police officers and hiring a multicultural liaison who is sensitive to the needs of the city’s diverse population are just two of the four program strategies that have aided Hopkins in achieving this goal. Also instrumental to the program’s success is community engagement, by getting police officers out of their vehicles and into the community, police can form relationships and build trust with members of the community.
Joint Community Police Partnership
Photo credit: Julia Ross of Hopkins Police Department
Close to 38.4% of the Hopkins Community is made up of people of color and an estimated 34 different languages are spoken throughout the City. In 2008, Hopkins Police Department formed the Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) that is comprised of community members from various cultural groups as a way to bridge relationships between the community and police. The group engages in dialogues with the police department and other city departments about concerns in their communities, as they also serve as ambassadors who relay city government decision-making practices. Our diverse population “is one of the greatest things about the city of Hopkins,” noted Mayor Molly Cummings. These dialogues occur in places of worship, markets, parks, community centers, and on the sidewalk, which points to the critical role of outreach in building relationships and strengthening the community.
Multicultural Advisory Committee
Photo credit: Julia Ross of Hopkins Police Department
More than half of the city’s population identifies as Hispanic (53.2%). Racial differences in perceptions between officers and communities have been found–nine-in-ten officers (91%) say police have an excellent or good relationship with Whites in their communities; but just 56% rate the relationship between police and Blacks positively, while seven-in-ten report good relations with Hispanics. Given that crime rates in Landfall are higher than the rest of the state, to encourage healthy relationships between police officers and children at Landfall, the lake is used as an educational playground. The local police donate their time, fishing poles, and bait, and take summer afternoons to teach the kids of Landfall how to fish. This activity builds relationships with the younger residents and is an attempt to break down stereotypes between law enforcement and youth of color, beginning at young ages.
Intelligent policing is about getting out of the police station and the car, engaging the community and finding community champions. Such interactions have been noted to build trust and enhance youth violence prevention strategies (Brunson, Braga, Hureau, & Pegram, 2015; Cherney, 2018). As Brooklyn Park’s crime levels are higher than the state, the police are encouraged to get to know the communities in a meaningful way, not just when there is a problem. “We expect our officers,…..to not to drive around,” says Mayor Lunde. “Stop… say hi to someone, get out of the car, [and] meet.” The Brooklyn Park Police Department has also started to use visual cards to explain code violations when language barriers are present. “We’re using pictures as a way to communicate, cause that’s cross-cultural,” reflects Mayor Lunde. “People see a picture, they can understand what those things are.”
In 2009, Zanewood Recreation Center began offering after-school recreation, homework, and development programs for youth in the community. Since then, crime has rapidly dropped. In 2008, there were 1,158 serious and misdemeanor offenses involving juveniles as suspects or victims. In 2013, there were only 634, said Police Commander Mark Bruley. “As we invested, we saw involvement go up and we saw crime go down,” said Mayor Jeff Lunde. Located in a residential neighborhood with both single-family and multifamily housing and adjacent to the Zanewood Community School, Zanewood Recreation Center acts as a basecamp for youth, offering a safe and positive environment to gather, swim, dance, play, and study throughout the school year and during the summer. The community comes together to provide outreach, community service, youth mentoring, and employment opportunities for youth in the area.
Zanewood Recreation Center
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Photo credit: City 3