Minneapolis recently signed a $6m contract with Canopy Mental Health and Consulting to work as MPD coresponders. Hennepin county’s COPE program (community outreach for psychiatric emergencies) can be used to fill the gaps in service for individuals that have not accessed services to treat their mental health issues.
Retraining 911 dispatchers will lessen the workload of an overtaxed, understaffed police department. Since the inception of the 911 system, it’s been a catchall for every social problem. Now is the time to not only retrain dispatchers but residents also. Let’s provide community outreach and education for residents, provide them alternatives to dialing 911; they need to change their natural response when witnessing problematic behavior in their neighborhoods. Fire departments spend much of their day working on “preventive measures” such as checking hydrants, performing building inspections, maintaining fire trucks and equipment. They’ve also had help from changes to building codes and requirements that include things like hard wired smoke detectors and sprinkler systems. I hope in years to come our police department can spend more time on prevention and less time being reactionary. I want to see more and better mental health programs, residential treatment facilities, vocational training programs and increased programming for all ages in our parks.
Increase the police investigative staff because often 911 calls come after the incident has occurred. Encourage/incentivize city residency. Bring back beat cops, the more time spent outside a squad car and engaged with the community, the better. Continue work to increase cultural diversity of our city staff and the level of cultural competency they acquire through training.