Minnesota HEALS (Hope, Education, and Law and Safety) -- Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN
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Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Years of Operation:
Minnesota HEALS (Hope, Education, and Law and Safety) is a unique public-private partnership that has developed a comprehensive violence reduction strategy. The program is characterized by corporate commitments and public agency collaborations to reduce violent crime. The catalyst for HEALS was Honeywell, Inc., which has a long history of active involvement in philanthropic activities. Honeywell reacted to a New York Times article that dubbed Minneapolis quot;Murderapolis," reflecting a sharp rise in homicides -- a jump from approximately 60 per year in 1994 to 97 in 1995 and 86 in 1996. With its world headquarters in one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Minneapolis, Honeywell was concerned for the safety of its employees and property and for the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhood. Honeywell decided that in order to remain in the inner city, it had to do something about violent crime.
Honeywell's chief executive officer enlisted fellow CEO's from other socially responsible private corporations -- Allina Health Systems, 3M, General Mills, and the staff of the Minnesota Business Partnership -- to meet with the Governor to share their concerns about the escalating local and statewide crime rates. After the Governor pledged his support, Honeywell arranged a series of planning meetings. The business community, including a core group of local corporations and the Minnesota Business Partnership, contributed financial support, influence, and human resources to implement the program. Honeywell then sought an independent consultant to bring all the needed partners to the planning table. The executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in Washington, D.C., was selected to provide knowledge about criminal justice innovations and to facilitate collaboration among the Federal, State, and local criminal justice agencies. Having an outside consultant proved to be very helpful, as he was familiar with successful crime reduction strategies and had no vested interest in the project or the community. Therefore, the consultant could make unbiased assessments and hold local stakeholders accountable. Furthermore, he was known and supported by both the Republican Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the Democrat-appointed Minneapolis Chief of Police.
In an initial brainstorming meeting held in December 1996, the Minneapolis Chief of Police, the State's Commissioner of Public Safety, the PERF consultant, and representatives from Honeywell and General Mills hammered out a list of initial objectives focusing both on law enforcement and on community prevention efforts.
Organizational structure of Minnesota HEALS
Minnesota HEALS members first met as a group in early 1997. Soon after, two task forces were created. The Law Enforcement Task Force consisted of the key criminal justice agencies in the city and State. Its purpose was to analyze and develop a strategic response to the recent rash of homicides and shootings, and the current gang activities. The Community Task Force, chaired by the director of a local business association, also was to develop long-range, local crime prevention activities funded wholly or in part by corporations.
In addition to these two groups, Forum and Support committees were created. The Forum Committee is open to all members and shares information through presentations and discussions. This committee also makes recommendations to the other committees. The Support Committee approves final actions and makes decisions on matters such as fundraising and key objectives. It consists of 19 members, including key corporate, community, and criminal justice agency representatives. The Forum and Support Committee meetings are held monthly, usually at Honeywell, while the Law Enforcement and Community Task Forces meet as often as necessary. The Vice President for Social Responsibility at Honeywell serves as the primary resource to coordinate discussion topics and share information among members. A newsletter for members has recently been published to facilitate communication.
Today, Minnesota HEALS has 61 member organizations. Corporate members include Honeywell, General Mills, 3M, Allina Health Systems, and Medtronic. Local government agencies include the chiefs of police and mayors' offices of Minneapolis and St. Paul; the Minneapolis City Council; the sheriff's offices, attorney's offices, and commissioners from Hennepin and Ramsey Counties; Metro Transit Police; Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support; and the public schools. State-level participants include the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the University of Minnesota, and the Attorney General's Office. The Law Enforcement Task Force currently consists of 2530 law enforcement representatives from the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments' gang, homicide, and narcotics units; the sheriff's office; the probation department; and Federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, and the U.S. Attorney's Office. The Community Task Force consists of nonprofit members that represent various neighborhood coalitions and service providers and private business partnerships.
The law enforcement strategy
The Law Enforcement Task Force commissioned researchers from Harvard's KSG to conduct a study of homicide patterns in Minneapolis. The homicide study analyzed data from January 1994 through May 1997 and revealed an important link between gangs and violent crime. Nearly 45 percent of all homicides appeared to be gang related. African-American youth tended to be disproportionately represented as both homicide suspects and victims. More than 40 percent of gang members who were homicide victims or suspects had been on probation and 76.8 percent had arrest histories prior to the homicide incidents, with an average of 9.5 arrests. Significantly, the similarity between perpetrator and victim profiles influenced subsequent police strategies; it was learned that suspects and arrestees had 7.4 prior arrests and victims had 7.5 prior arrests. Firearms were used in two-thirds of homicides. The task force used these data to focus their 1997 strategies on gangs and guns. The gang unit of the Minneapolis Police Department then used its data base to identify gangs and to target specific youth. It first charted and linked all homicide suspects, victims, and witnesses for 1994 and 1995 and found that certain individuals showed up repeatedly. Looking further, the unit surmised that certain shootings and murders were probably retaliatory. Based on this analysis, it decided to concentrate on 50 multiple offenders within the gangs. The gang unit was doubled in size with emphasis on including more racially and ethnically diverse officers.
Rapid response team
One important strategic intervention initiated in summer 1997 was to respond quickly and decisively to those shootings that had the potential of provoking gang retaliations. This response was based on Boston's Operation Ceasefire model, which was adopted by the Law Enforcement Task Force (see profile 21). Immediately after a shooting, a rapid response team consisting of police, probation officers, Federal and local prosecutors, and Federal law enforcement personnel met and located not only suspects, but also the victims' associates. The message sent to all involved was that any hint of retaliation would evoke an aggressive response from law enforcement. Probation officers also checked to see if these associates were under the authority of the Department of Probation and could be targeted for special attention to discourage violent acts. In one instance in June 1997, a retaliation occurred after a victim's associates were warned against this by the response team. As a result, the associates' car was searched and four guns and two Molotov cocktails were found. These individuals were referred for Federal prosecution. This incident was covered extensively by the media, thereby reinforcing the warning to gang members of the consequences of their retaliatory actions. The coordinated action of the response team and the subsequent swift action of prosecutors was a major turning point in stemming the violence in Minneapolis in summer 1997.
Until recently, Federal prosecutions were rare for non-Federal crimes, but the U.S. Attorney promised the police that under certain circumstances those crimes would be prosecuted under Federal statutes. A similar commitment was made by the county attorney's office, which established a gang prosecution unit with vertical prosecutions. A number of tough, new State laws also helped. In August 1996, a new law went into effect that mandated a minimum 18-month disposition of incarceration for juveniles who commit delinquent offenses that, if committed by an adult, would be considered felonies; prior to this date, these juveniles could be sentenced for only 15 to 25 days.
Minneapolis Anti-Violence Initiative (MAVI)
MAVI, which is modeled after Boston's Operation Night Light program (see profile 33), pairs Minneapolis police officers (including all officers in the gang unit) and Hennepin County sheriff's deputies with probation officers from the Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections. Police officers and deputies cotrain with probation officers for 2 days. These police and probation officer teams make regular, unannounced visits to the homes of probationers during the evening hours to monitor their adherence to the terms of their probation. From June 1997 through September 1998, MAVI teams visited 331 juveniles and 398 adults in Minneapolis, including the 50 violent gang members who were previously identified and warned not to cause trouble. The commander of the gang unit believes MAVI has had a deterrent effect because probationers do not like being personally known by probation and police officers. Another benefit of the program was to bring together two agencies that had not previously worked together. Further, MAVI participants worked with the courts to place more stringent conditions on pretrial release, such as curfews, restrictions on visiting certain geographic areas, and associating with undesirable persons (see profile 31).
A number of strategies relating specifically to guns also were initiated or expanded. Beginning in August 1996, ATF agents were partnered with members of the Minneapolis police department gang unit and homicide unit to immediately investigate every gun homicide. ATF traced every firearm recovered by police within 1 day after it was confiscated. If a suspicious trace resulted, an ATF special agent accompanied police on an investigation. As a result of these joint investigations, police were able to develop cases for illegal firearm use and trafficking for prosecution.
Patrol and gang unit police officers, together with ATF agents, also conducted saturation patrols 2 nights per week in small, targeted areas. These areas were identified by the police crime analysis unit focusing on locations with the highest number of shots fired and shooting calls. The goal was to remove as many firearms from the streets as possible through aggressive inspection and consent searches. The program also targeted residential gun dealers. Drivers involved in traffic violations were asked if they would consent to a search of their vehicles. If permission was granted, these vehicles were searched for guns. Police also teamed with ATF agents in investigating residential firearm dealers and gun shops as part of their criminal investigations.
The presence of ATF agents riding along with police, and being seen on the streets, seemed to have had an impact on gang members. Police and ATF agents noticed that gang members stopped carrying their weapons in their waistbands. Instead they had acquaintances carry them or had them hidden somewhere nearby. Police and ATF believe that creating this distance between gang members and their guns probably cut down on spontaneous shootings, such as those that had occurred in summer 1996.
State gang task force
In response to the ever-increasing mobility of gangs, and the infiltration of gangs into suburban and rural communities, a statewide gang task force was created. This task force, which has 40 members from local, county, and State police agencies, has enabled law enforcement to collaborate across jurisdictions and respond more efficiently to statewide gang activities. Members are deputized and have power statewide, and they conduct long-term investigations using a gang data base.
As a means of gaining public support for their law enforcement strategies, key Minnesota HEALS partners -- notably the Law Enforcement Task Force consultant from PERF, the U.S. Attorney, the Minneapolis Chief of Police and coordinator, and the probation supervisor -- spoke to community groups in the targeted neighborhoods about the new tactics to reduce violent crimes and the rationale behind them. HEALS representatives were sometimes met with small but vocal criticism at these meetings. However, recent community surveys show that residents have accepted HEALS tactics and are pleased to have safer neighborhoods.
Outcomes and new directions for law enforcement strategies
Since the Minnesota HEALS initiatives began, homicides declined 30 percent in Minneapolis (from 83 in 1996 to 58 in 1997) and the number of murders dropped from 40 in summer 1996 to 8 in summer 1997 -- the lowest number of summer homicides in 12 years. Gang-related homicides dropped from 52 percent of all homicides to 23 percent from May 1997 to March 1998. Part 1 crimes also have fallen; in the first 8 months of 1998 versus 1997, Part 1 crimes declined 14 percent. This reduction in homicides and other Part 1 crimes cannot be directly attributed to any one of these enforcement strategies but more likely is the result of a cumulative impact of a comprehensive approach.
With such success, many of the 1997 strategies implemented by Minnesota HEALS have been institutionalized, such as the interagency collaborations, MAVI, saturation patrols, rapid response teams to prevent retaliation, total gun tracing, and Federal gun prosecutions. Minnesota HEALS also has led to many new and useful criminal justice collaborations -- among police, ATF, probation, and Federal partners; between the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments; and between prosecutors and police.
As an evolution of the HEALS program, CODEFOR has been initiated by the Minneapolis Police Department, fashioned after the New York City Police Department's COMPSTAT program (see profile 19). CODEFOR has provided the police with rapidly available crime pattern information and the ability to deploy personnel accordingly. This has led to greater commander accountability for police operations linked to crime outcomes. In addition, a second study, Violent Crime in the Twin Cities: An Analysis of Violent Crime and Illegal Drugs in Minneapolis and St. Paul, conducted by PERF, concluded that narcotics and its relationship with violent crime should be Minnesota HEALS' next focus. Another of Minnesota HEALS' goals for 1999 is to improve and make more compatible the area's criminal justice information systems.
The community prevention and intervention strategies
Many of the corporations involved in Minnesota HEALS have long helped communities through their philanthropic foundations and employee volunteers. For instance, part of Honeywell's mission is "to strengthen communities where we operate and trade so that our neighbors, our employees, our shareholders and our company can grow, prosper and experience an enhanced quality of life." Honeywell provided not only financial resources, but also hands-on assistance and expertise to nearby Minneapolis communities with high crime, poverty, and social problems.
In addition to Honeywell, General Mills, and Allina Foundation, other companies consulted and partnered with existing community organizations on a regular basis by attending community meetings, by working hand-in-hand with community members on revitalization and community development programs, and by inviting community organizations to HEALS meetings. These corporations believe that working with communities is as important as giving them financial support.
Below are some brief examples of the many forms of community prevention and intervention programs and initiatives credited to the members of Minnesota HEALS.