Brooklyn Park’s City Council addressed the recent rash of violence in the city’s south side and larger efforts to move toward police reform at its Aug. 31 meeting.

“I have lived in Brooklyn Park for over 30 years. I’d like to say almost 40. And I’ve not seen it like this,” said Councilmember Mark Mata.

City manager Jay Stroebel noted the city’s entire leadership team is concerned about the recent uptick in violent crime in the city, saying it is “not acceptable.”

In late July, there were multiple shooting incidents in a single day near 63rd and Zane Avenue. Police responded to multiple shootings over Labor Day weekend, as well as the previous weekend.

According to Stroebel, the city’s response would need to be multi-faceted and address root causes, not just one aspect of the issue. Communities across the state and country are generally seeing increases in violent crime, he said. The park and recreation department’s violence prevention work with vulnerable youth, and the liveablity of neighborhoods all need to be considered in the city’s overall response, Stroebel said.

Mata said the city needs to bring more community leaders into violence prevention measures.

Councilmember Lisa Jacobson concurred, saying the city needs a hub to help connect organizations that can help curb the violence. In some cases, people from other cities have come to Brooklyn Park to commit crimes, she said.

Councilmember Tonja West-Hafner echoed the sentiment, saying other organizations such as My Brother’s Keeper and Cities United need to be brought together with the city to help deal with both violence and police reform.

The police department is short approximately six or seven officers, Stroebel said, but has plans to hire another five of its cadets. Jacobson questioned if the shortage could potentially play a role in the increase in crime.

Police reform

The city’s Human Rights Commission and Multi-cultural Advisory Committee have been engaging in ongoing discussions related to police reform, and have yet to bring final recommendations to the council.

Councilmember Susan Pha said she and community members that have contacted her are growing impatient, and want to see that work move forward. She added, however, that while she is appreciative of the groups’ work, she does not want to place all of the burden on their shoulders. The city ought to consider bringing in a consultant to assist in its reform work, she explained.

Outside of legislative changes impacting police union rules, the city’s police department does not have the same issues as other departments, West-Hafner said. The city has already taken reform steps that are not widely recognized in the community, she said.

Mata spoke against hiring a consultant for police reform work.

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