Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Mayor Jacob Frey touts his first-year-in-office accomplishments

Posted on 22 April 2019 by calvin

By JAN WILLMS
It has been a little over a year since Jacob Frey (photo right provided) took over the reins as mayor of Minneapolis. But in that year, Frey has made some incremental changes.

Making affordable housing one of his priorities, he has worked on a new initiative, “Stable Homes, Stable Schools,” built on a collaboration with private and public partners and designed to provide stable housing for Minneapolis public school students and families facing homelessness.

Longfellow schools Sullivan and Anishinaabe Academy are among the 15 schools participating in the program, which is a team effort with partners from the City, Minneapolis Public Schools, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and Hennepin County.

The program focuses on schools with the highest rates of homelessness.

“I included $3.3 million in my first budget as mayor to support the program,” Frey said. “In its first three years, we hope that the program can house up to 320 families and as many as 648 kids.”

Frey said he hopes that this program will not just provide stable housing to families and kids that need it, but will also help stabilize Minneapolis public schools. “We can’t expect our students to learn and succeed in the classroom if they don’t have a room to rest their head at night,” he said. “And our kids are worth the cost.”

Another major issue the mayor has focused on is sexual assault. “Reporting sexual assault is an act of courage,” he stated. “Survivors experience unspeakable trauma, and honoring their bravery requires we make every effort to ensure investigations are handled with compassion and ultimately guided by the goal of delivering justice.”

Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo have set out to pursue a new policy to improve how sexual assault is handled in the city. “The policy is built on the pillars of compassion for victims, responsiveness to survivors and accountability,” Frey explained.

Some of its specifics include victim-centered training for sexual assault investigations, trauma-informed interview techniques and implementing best practices for investigators to follow during a sexual assault case. Also, an in-house victim advocate who works alongside investigators and assists survivors through investigation and legal process will be a part of the new policy.

“Our sexual assault policy holds our investigators to high standards,” Frey noted, “but elected officials also need to be held accountable for giving Arradondo and our police department the resources they need to meet those high standards. Our police department receives more than 700 reports of rape alone per year. We only have eight investigators to handle all of these cases on top of the other crimes they’re assigned.”

Frey is hoping that adding more police officers to the department will help improve the relationship between residents and police, which has suffered in the past.

“Adding more officers will help make Minneapolis safer, through a likely reduction in crime and a lower rate of incarceration,” he said. He cited increased funding by President Barack Obama in 2009 for the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS). “Data has shown that jurisdictions which used the money to add officers saw a concurrent drop in crime without an increase in arrests.

“We also need to improve the response times for 911 calls in Minneapolis,” Frey said, noting that it can sometimes take as long as 30 minutes for an officer to show up when some residents call 911.

“Hiring more officers will reduce the use of force,” Frey continued. “Research has shown that over-scheduled, overworked and fatigued officers are more likely to use force in tense situations.” He said studies have also shown that the number of complaints against a police department drops when cops are less tired. “The best cure for over-scheduling responsible for those problems is more staff.”

“Chief Arradondo has repeatedly requested more officers,” Frey said. “I trust Arradondo to shift the culture of the MPD and advance our goals around community policing. We should give him the resources he needs to do that.”

In his first year, Frey also has stressed immigration issues. “Our immigrant communities have driven so many of the successes that have made Minneapolis an amazing city,” he stated. “Whether it’s our small businesses, our arts scene or our nonprofits, immigrants have made Minneapolis a place where people want to live, invest and start businesses. As mayor, I have an obligation to do everything I can to make sure their talents and contributions stay in Minneapolis.”

He said one of the accomplishments he is most proud of is outfitting every MPD squad car with ‘Know-Your-ICE-Rights’ placards that outline a person’s rights as they pertain to ICE. “We will not let a lack of compassion at the highest levels of our government go unanswered in Minneapolis.”

Frey added that this is also a key step in continuing to build trust between the police department and the community. “We are focused on keeping everyone in our city safe, not on immigration enforcement.”

Celebrating the city is also on the mayor’s mind. Doors Open Minneapolis is a celebration of the city and the spaces that make it unique. “On the weekend of May 18-19, venues and sites across our city will open their doors to the public for free, behind-the-scenes access,” he said. More information can be found at doorsopenminneapolis.org.

Reflecting on his first year in office, Mayor Frey said he found his most challenging and complex issue to be the Hiawatha homeless encampment. “It forced us to confront the scope of both our housing crisis and the opioid epidemic,” he said.

“From the start, our entire coalition—city leadership, tribes, Red Lake Nation, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors—was committed to centering our actions on compassion and a response for human dignity. Our hope is that what we have done will have a lasting impact for the people we serve,” Frey stated.

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