Minneapolis leaders unveil program to reduce gun violence
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) – A major initiative in northern Minneapolis, supported by community leaders and the mayor, is poised to reduce the recent spike in gun violence.
Twenty men will be on the streets from June as part of the Community Safety Specialist (CSS) program. Their first mission as community safety specialists: to determine where all the weapons are coming from.
“Who has them, how they get them, and how we can engage with children who have them,” said Gayle Smaller, chair of the safety committee of the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC).
The team will not be made up of volunteers. They get paid $ 15.30 to start with benefits and will end up earning $ 23 an hour. They will eventually have 180 hours of training which includes de-escalation, practical tactics and counterterrorism as well as mental health first aid. The position is treated as a skilled trade.
“We have created our own profession, strictly focused on community safety and the CSS program,” said Frank McCrary, executive board member for Local 26 of SEUI.
The plan is to start in northern Minneapolis. They will divide it into zones where specialists will get to know the locals and business leaders and open up communication.
“I want to be a face, I want to be an inspiration and I want to be something that is the beginning of people who look like me, people who feel like me and people who have lived in conditions like me to understand that the world is with them rather than against them, ”said Michael Powell, a CSS mentor.
The CSS program, however, says it is separate from the police department.
“As soon as they realized that we were working with the police, they kicked us out,” Smaller said. “But our ability to make that separation and bring in real believable guys from the neighborhood allows these thugs to trust us.”
At the same time, organizers of the CSS program say they support law enforcement. The mayor says the city will donate $ 1 million to the program.
“So once we find a way to support the law so that they can actually make these arrests, get these criminals and murderers off the streets, then I think that makes our job a lot easier,” he said. Smaller said.
“It’s part of an ecosystem,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “Along with other means of preventing violence and yes, law enforcement. And if we do that right, it is in addition to the work our police officers do on a daily basis.”
Board members Jeremiah Ellison, Lisa Goodman and Steve Fletcher attended the press conference in support.
The city’s million dollar is just for the pilot. We don’t know what they will need beyond that. As for the Minneapolis Police Department, they look forward to a more defined role for the CSS program and how it can complement public safety initiatives across the city.