Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Response To Hawkman's Post: More EcoVillage Crime Prevention Strategies

Photo by Jeff Skrenes, blog post by The Walking Drum

To continue the discussion started by Hawthorne Hawkman about crime fighting strategies...

Also don't under estimate the power of a unified effort. We benefited in the ecovillage because this was a "cluster project," but when residents band together and call for meetings with these same people in CPED and Reg Services, they will be able to show a resolve that the city has to recognize and is forced to answer to.

Sometimes comments and complaints are the best way to get through to a government organization as long as they are sent in mass quantities.

About 911 calls. A study was done a few years ago about...

...the effectiveness of 911 calls in the city of Minneapolis. Well, statistically another police precinct got better police response than the Fourth Precinct with a lower crime rate. The reason was FREQUENCY. To anyone who is wondering when and where to call 911, this is the principle. Police deploy based on frequency of 911 calls not as much subject matter. They look at subject matter too but they deploy based on the number of calls. Which ever area in their precinct gets the most calls that is the area that gets the most police presence. They have to. By law they have to respond to a 911 call above all else. So if a granny in a calm part of town calls 911 about cats or dogs in the trees, she is going to get more police protection than someone who calls in 5 shots and never calls again. These are the facts.

So we beat the drug dealers at their own game. They knew this principle. They exploited it. They counted on people being too afraid to call. They also perfected passing drugs in a very discreet way. These deals would happen so fast you found yourself wondering whether you really saw something.

So this is how we used the 911 strategy to our advantage.

1. Know your street.

If you don't want to walk alone, find a friend, find two. Get to know the house numbers on your street, and the streets adjacent to yours and their intersections. This is very helpful if you have a drug house or people who like to loiter on the corner.

2. Pay attention to car and foot traffic.

Get to know who drives what vehicle on your street. Who walks to the bus stop? Who goes for walks in the evening? Which house has people and or vehicles coming to the front or back door more than once an hour? Maybe the police cannot profile their potential perps but you certainly won't get in trouble for it. If you know a house is a drug house, you should be calling 911 every time someone comes to the door. You call in the address and a description of the person who went inside and a description of their vehicle if applicable. You assume they are buying drugs so you tell the 911 operator, "Hey, white male, blue shirt white pants, selling drugs in front of 3020 6th St N." If the operator says, did you see the drugs? You observe and you tell them he is flagging cars down. Most drug houses have a door keeper. You want to call in that one person's description into 911 as many times as you see strangers coming to the door.

3. Learn to watch people.

You can watch someone with out looking them in the eye. Very soon they realize they are being watched. These people have excelled because they think that they are invisible, that nobody cares what they do. Once they realize that they are no longer invisible on your street they will not want to come back. A lot of these guys just stay where they can they don't actually live there. Either way, they excel solely because nobody wants to draw attention to them. It is your job to change that. This does not have to be done out in the open. You can call in descriptions from behind closed doors, curtains, and car windows. But coming back to the open watching of people. Grab a friend, get people out on the street, good people. These guys' skin crawl when they see a good person, a law abiding citizen. They just want to get away. So get your good neighbors out on the sidewalk.

4. Pick up trash.

A great unobtrusive way to watch people with out looking like a snoop is to bring a garbage bag out and pick up trash on your street and in your alley. You would not believe how many bratty kids and drug dealers I have gotten to help me pick up trash because they see me picking up trash and they wanted to improve their image. If you don't get any help, at least you improve the look on your street and you gather some much needed intel about the people of ill repute that are frequenting the house around the corner or accross the street. They won't attack you for picking up trash!

5. Leave your name with the 911 operator.

No one has ever traced my name to any 911 call and used it to retaliate against me. This actually helps the police that respond. Pretty soon once they get a number of calls in one area, they start reading the notes and seeing who is calling. When they have a name and a phone number, they will come calling wanting your opinion and observations. If you never give your name and phone number, than you won't have a chance to share everything you have seen and heard.

6. Get to know your neighbors.

You are not alone. You can find someone to network with. You find someone on your block. Meet together, form a block club. Go to your local precinct block club training. Get to know your sector lieutenants. Get to know your beat officers. Make friends around you and share your concerns and find out what their concerns are too. There is safety in numbers and you will succeed the more people you get to rally around a common goal.

These are some of the principles that the residents of the eco village used to drive out the reprobates around them.


Patricia said...


If a 911 call results in criminal charges, the accused is entitle to have a copy of the call and to know who called him in. Sometimes the prosecutors will figure out who called even if you want to remain anonymous.

I fully encourage people to call 911/311 on their neighbors, but do be aware that the cops will share this information with the criminal, including your identity.

Anonymous said...

This is great advice Jeff. It is amazing what getting out and talking to people can do to an area. At least people in the immediate vicinity will know who you are and what you are up to.

Plus it makes me feel a bit more empowered.

Brian said...

We need more cameras in NoMi. They can be monitored by volunteers who call 311 to sign up. RT Rybak has put up over 800 video cameras, but we need something more like 80,000 or 800,000 video cameras in Mpls.

These cameras should be voice capable as well, so that the monitors can speak to deter anti-social behavior.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Another reason to pick up trash is that often dealers will toss away any drugs they may have on them if they see a squad car coming. Cleaning up the block makes it easier for the police to find items like that.

And it can be a hassle, but if a person doesn't have a neighbor to partner up with in observing the street, get in your car and drive around in the evenings from time to time. I felt stupid the first few times I did this, but I was able to make observations and write down plate numbers that I didn't feel safe doing walking around alone.

Also, I was approached by one dealer, who claimed he knew that I was the one calling the police. I found out that he was saying that to everyone on the block to intimidate them. People need to not cave to intimidation tactics.


NoMi Passenger said...

AKL, you are right, way to go in making an effort in your area too.

I remember a MPD action alert not that long ago in which it said the caller had observed and told 911 that a dealer was stashing his supply in a littered chip bag on the ground, stuck in a bush. They relayed the info to the squad and the stash was found and arrest was made.

Good neighbor + cop partnership there.

I also saw a MPD action alert the other day for John's 14 dime bags off Penn/30th. Way to go John - thank you for helping clean up my area.

Carey Joe Howell said...

I agree banding together and using the tactics that Jeff describe do work. The 6th St Block club has been doing that for years even before the eco village was the sparkle in the city's eye.

Folwell Fox said...

How about open firearm carrying while picking up trash, for those that are CCW licensed of course? If you're not CCW qualed you should be!

Johnny Northside! said...

To Patricia,

First of all, it wasn't Hawkman but Walking Drum who wrote this post. Walking drum contributes less frequently than Hawkman, but he does periodically contribute.

Patricia, you troll, you are spreading fear, distorting the truth, and telling lies. Some of us have racked up hundreds of 911 calls and a few really active North Minneapolis residents have racked up THOUSANDS. Clearly, information is NOT being shared with the criminals or something bad would have happened.

Anonymous said...

And Patricia -

I have news for you - I testified at trial as a witness to a shooting - after calling it into 911.


He's serving life in jail and I am still alive. His family hasn't bothered me. His homies haven't bothered me.

Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zero.

Grow up.


Patricia said...


I'm not trying to scare anyone. I'm just familiar with the MN rules of criminal procedure, statutes relating to discovery and a US Supreme Court case entitled Brady v. Maryland. I don't know what's trolling about that.

The accused in a criminal proceeding is entitled to all exculpatory material and material that can be used to impeach a witness under the 14th Amendment pursuant to Brady. MN has provided for additional discovery through rules of criminal procedure and statutes.

I'm encouraging people to call, I just think the facts should be out there. John, you're a law school grad, check out what I say for yourself. You'll find it spot on accurate.

And sorry for misidentifying the author. He sounded like Hawkman but I didn't look.


Jack said...

Patricia may be a troll, but her information is partially factual. Although you can tell the 911 operator that you want to remain anonymous, the ANI (automatic phone number identification), and ALI (automatic location information)generated by the Enhanced 911 system are retained and is public information. Or simply put, the phone number and address of the caller is public information. Anyone, not just the attorneys involved in a case, can access that information.
Quote from the City's 911/311 brochure:
• You wish to remain anonymous. (Note that 911 system data listing your address and phone number information will remain part of the call record.)"
I can verify this because I got the information from 911 on who called 911 on my puppy barking.
And, anyone who has a digital trunked scanner knows that complainant information is frequently broadcast over the police radio (although many calls are now dispatched via in squad computer).
So, while I doubt that the drug dealers and prostitutes are asking 911 who is complaining about them, they could access that information.

On another note. The 911 center does not determine the policing pattern. That is done by the precinct. All types of 911 calls have a priority. The barking dog has a lowest priority, a robbery or burglary in progress has the highest priority, and the suspected drug dealer is in the middle.
The problem with Jeff's "strategy by design", is that while it might solve the problem is his neighborhood, another neighborhood gets less police presence/protection. And by Jeff's own logic that means a high priority burglary in progress call in the Camden neighborhood will get a slower response than a lower priority prostitute in Hawthorne.
The other 6 principles are great. But putting other neighborhoods at risk by skewing the data is dirty business. It also exaggerates the crime data that shows up on realty reports (and neighborhood reports), and can make a neighborhood less attractive to prospective buyers.

Dershowitz Doppelganger said...

I believe Patricia's recitation of the law is correct. Persons have a right to confront their accuser, and this means getting all of the evidence the prosecution has against them. This is established case law under the 6th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...


If there is prostitution, drug dealing, violence, or even housing violations on my block and people DON'T call 911 or 311, then I contend the data is ALREADY skewed. I view the persistent calling of 911 or 311 as a means of making the city aware of the full extent of the problem neighbors are facing.

I disagree slightly with the semantics of pulling officers away based on priority as well. From what I've been told, they respond based on the level of the call, not the volume of calls from one area.

While it's true they may base their patrols on call type and volume, I'm comfortable with that. I don't want to create all sorts of mini-fiefdoms throughout NoMi, but I'm not going to make calls with less frequency just because the neighborhood next door isn't as vigilant.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, the fact of the matter is that 911 call logs are rarely introduced at trial, mostly because usually the city/county attorney won't prosecute unless they have enough evidence based on officer interaction with the defendant (such as the officer finding cash and drugs on the defendant). The existence of a 911 record pales in comparison, evidentially, to an officer searching the defendant and finding cash and drugs on him/her.

Secondly, most thugs are too busy with their thug lifestyles to make the effort to obtain 911 call logs. Even if the call information is available, and the thug knows where to get it, it is a rare thug with the initiative, or curiosity, to get that information.

Thirdly, my experience is that even after calling 911 about a serious incident, talking to the police about the incident in my front yard, and testifying at trial, there was no retaliation.

There is a huge urban myth out there that making a 911 call or otherwise getting involved will necessarily and unavoidably result in serious consequences.

In fact, my experience is that now that certain troublesome neighbors know that I refuse to be intimidated, they don't bother trying anymore.


Johnny Northside! said...

What he said. That. Right there. That is what I base my remark upon.

I've made hundreds of 911 calls. I've NEVER been contacted as a witness or had any interaction with the authorities as a result of the 911 calls, let alone interaction with THUGS as a result of the 911 calls. The only interaction comes from the rare instances where I get called back and asked for more of a description of what I saw or--even more rarely--congratulated and told the results of the 911 call, such as dime bags off the street, etc.

Anonymous said...

I would think it would be a crime to lie to 911 operators as you recommend below just to get a response.

"You assume they are buying drugs so you tell the 911 operator, "Hey, white male, blue shirt white pants, selling drugs in front of 3020 6th St N." If the operator says, did you see the drugs? You observe and you tell them he is flagging cars down."

Anonymous said...

1) Eliminate summer vacation.
2) Extend the School Day.
3) Raise Compulsory Education Age