Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced the launch of a program “MN HEALS 2.0” on Tuesday morning following several letters asking him to address the crime surge.
“The crime rates experienced in our communities in 2021 have raised important questions and concerns about approaches to prevention, law enforcement and prosecutions,” Freeman said.
MN HEALS stands for Minnesota Hope, Education And Law, Safety.
This action follows several public letters written by concerned city leadership and law enforcement, regarding what they referred to as a failure to prosecute crimes.
Freeman asked for the cooperation of Hennepin County mayors, county commissioners, and law enforcement as well as local business and faith leaders in what he calls a “public-private partnership.”
Freeman said, “Across Hennepin County, we have 37 municipalities as well as Minnesota’s largest urban area – Minneapolis. That means that shared commitments, coordinated approaches and effective partnerships are essential. It is also important that we take stock of what is working, what needs to be re-evaluated, what we can learn from our own past successes and failures and to make sure this analysis is based on facts.”
The press release from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office explained that MN HEALS was a program during Freeman’s second term as county attorney in 1997. According to the release, MN HEALS connected “16 criminal justice jurisdictions that served the Phillips neighborhood. It promoted partnerships between police and probation officers, safety centers, youth jobs programs, community and business leaders.”
The results of the program led to a 62% decrease in violent crimes over the course of a decade and lower murder rates in Minneapolis’ Third Precinct, from 26 in 1995 to five in 2002, according to the press release from Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
“While there are new and different considerations in 2022, we believe there are real lessons to be taken from that earlier success,” Freeman said. “The rebirth of MN HEALS in the 2.0 iteration, must be broad based, comprehensive and bring new energy to crime prevention.”
Freeman said, “MN HEALS 2.0 should focus on the most serious of violent crimes, suburban as well as urban, with a particular emphasis on recent violent juvenile carjackings.”
The initial participants in the partnership include, “Reverend Jerry McAfee, New Baptist Church; Bishop Harding Smith; Charlie Weaver, Minnesota Business Partnership; Steve Cramer, Minneapolis Downtown Council; Chief Correy Farniok – City of Orono and President of the Hennepin County Chiefs of Police; Retired Chief Mike Risvold, City of Wayzata; Mayor Jim Hovland, City of Edina; Hennepin County Commissioner Debbie Goettel representing the southern suburbs; Commissioner Jeff Lunde representing the northern suburbs; Assistant Hennepin County Administrator Chela Guzman-Wiegert; City of Minneapolis Councilmember Linea Palmisano and Councilmember Lisa Goodman.”
“We owe it to all our citizens to bring together — urgently — the key players in crime prevention: law enforcement, prosecution, workforce development, community engagement, business leaders, and others to reduce crime,” Freeman said.
Freeman did not explain what the MN HEALS 2.0 program would entail or if he would be walking back his statement from December 2020 when he announced he would not require bail for criminals convicted of certain crimes including vehicle theft, forgery, and thefts under $35,000.
– – –
Hayley Feland is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].
Photo “Michael Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney” by Tony Webster CC BY-SA 2.0.