Minneapolis’ SafeZone

A public-private surveillance effort with retail giant Target Corp. has led to a dramatic reduction in the city’s violent crime

That cooperation helped make an arrest in a bank robbery. “Private security downtown maintains literally thousands of cameras,” he says, “and so when we put out a description of the bank robber over the radio system, they are monitoring thousands of cameras. They were able to identify the suspect walking through a skyway several blocks away, and we were able to capture the bank robber.”


Crime Rate Drops

Other collaborative participants include community attorneys, residents, businesses, probation officers and social service providers. The SafeZone won a 2006 IACP Community Policing award. Minneapolis earned another IACP Community Policing Award in 2009 for its Downtown Courtwatch, which focuses on repeat offenders.

“We are in our fifth year of drop in violent crime in the SafeZone," Harteau says. "The ‘perception’ of safety in our downtown has improved significantly from receiving a less than 50 percent safety rating in 2006 to a 91 percent approval and safety rating in 2011.”

Despite its successes, the MPD isn’t standing pat. It’s exploring the use of mobile cameras, and the department is also working through legal complexities to establish another level of security collaboration with the business community.

“If a business owner wants to share their exterior cameras with us so that we can look at conditions on the street, we can dramatically improve the number of feet for the area that our cameras cover,” he says.


Bob Giles is a regular contributor to Security Technology Executive.