Five suburban mayors pledged Friday, Dec. 17, to work together on a regional response to address a rise in property and vehicle-related crimes in the metro area.
That announcement comes in a joint statement signed by the mayors of Eden Prairie, Bloomington, Edina, Minnetonka, and Plymouth. The mayors crafted the groundwork for the statement during a meeting at Eden Prairie City Center.
Initiated by Eden Prairie Mayor Ron Case, the meeting’s aim was for the southwest suburban leaders (also attending were each of the city’s police chiefs and city managers) to gather and discuss a collective response to the crimes.
“There were some substantive conversational topics with some potential change outcomes that did come out of our meeting today,” Case said. “A lot of positive comments shared about being grateful that we did meet and that Eden Prairie did convene this meeting.”
The meeting had three objectives: Build on the cities’ established relationships; share crime data and statistics, and establish that multifaceted local and regional response to crime.
“(We wanted to provide) our perceptions from our community of what is happening and what our residents feel and fear and share with us, and then strategize what are some ideas that we have for future initiatives, ” he said.
Like the other cities, Eden Prairie has had its share of vehicle-related crimes, mostly break-ins and catalytic converter thefts.
Two higher-profile vehicle-related crimes occurred in the city earlier this year.
In January, a carjacking happened while the victim was loading groceries into his vehicle outside the Tower Square shopping center. Two men, one brandishing a gun, reportedly approached the man (who was not injured in the incident) and stole the vehicle, later recovered in Minneapolis.
In February, a dog (later found safe) was inside a car stolen at a gas station. Police reported the car was left running with the keys in the ignition at the time of the theft.
“I’m never comfortable when there is crime in this city,” Case said. “I do believe that year after year the crime statistics are down. Car crimes are slightly up and primarily those are break-ins and catalytic converter thefts. We have not experienced the serious crime that some other communities are, so we want to get ahead of that. And get proactive, and our police are right on top of all that.”
According to the joint statement, the mayors decided on three next steps:
- Facilitate strengthening partnerships with law enforcement and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, with the goal of changing policies that have led to an increase in vehicle-related crimes.
- Request that the Regional Council of Mayors discuss the topic at its January meeting and resolve to work in unison to prevent these crimes.
- Law-enforcement agencies will build on their decades-long collaboration and continue to coordinate a comprehensive and consistent response to crimes across the metro.
“When one city experiences an increase in crime, it affects all of us,” the joint statement reads. “Together, we are committed to protecting our residents and preserving the high quality of life every person deserves.”
During the meeting, Case said participants discussed some of what they see are the drawbacks of a bail policy change made by the county attorney’s office. Since January, Hennepin prosecutors do not request bail for people arrested for 19 low-level crimes.
He said three crimes on that list — thefts under $35,000, theft of a motor vehicle, and property damage — might contribute to the uptick in vehicle-related crimes.
“We think the message being sent to criminals is you can commit this (kind of) crime this afternoon and be out by this evening,” he said. “From what I understand from the police officers, that is not far from the truth. I think we want the county attorney’s office to relook at that.”