The Saint Paul mayor’s office on Wednesday launched an online dashboard that provides data about how a “community-first public safety” framework is affecting security.
“Sometimes it’s hard to prove a negative,” Deputy Mayor Jaime Tincher told the city council. “… how do we prove how many of those conversations prevented a situation of violence?”
For example, the dashboard shows ambassadors from the St. Paul community, who are youth activists, intervened and reduced 58 incidents involving one gun and four knives between January and September.
Amid an increase in gun violence in 2019, Mayor Melvin Carter attempted to combat group and gun violence through continuing free access to youth jobs, community ambassadors and recreation centers.
Overall crime in St. Paul was down 4.6 percent during September compared to the same period last year, according to police department data. The city, however, continues to record the highest number of murders – there were 31 as of Tuesday night. There were 34 throughout 2020, matching the high set in 1992.
‘Expanding our public safety approach’
Tincher addressed council members on Wednesday, after the city council asked for regular updates on community-first public safety initiatives and received a presentation in May.
“We are expanding our public safety approach to move from responding to the aftermath of an emergency,” Tincher said. This includes “making strategic investments toward reducing the number of emergencies we face in the first place,” he said.
Among the goals are increasing “emergency responders’ time efficiency,” including limiting traffic stops for non-safety violations, “so that officers can focus their energies on responding to and preventing crime.” Tinker said.
Ramsey County Manager Ryan O’Connor said the full “build out” of a project called Healing Streets is ongoing. The programme, which is described as supporting “a safe space for youth affected by group/gun violence”, now includes four full-time community mediators.
“Every time there is a gun violence incident that results in an injury in St. Paul,” mediators “are part of the response on the ground,” O’Connor said.
Healing Streets, which is funded through Ramsey County and St. Paul, began in February 2019.
“I think the message to the public is that these new response mechanisms and programs take a long time to deliver on their promise,” said City Council member Jane Prince.
O’Connor said it is important they are creating sustainable programs even in times of pandemic and budget challenges.
Dashboard will be updated
Carter’s proposed budget for next year includes just over $1.8 million for a community-first public safety initiative. Tincher said the city is launching a neighborhood safety office to coordinate efforts, and they will use the new dashboard.
Other data points in the dashboard, which the mayor’s office has said will be updated on an ongoing basis, include:
- Paul’s Downtown Alliance created the Downtown Improvement District, which has a street team of people who clean up litter and graffiti, provide directions to visitors, and serve as “another set of eyes and ears for public safety responders.” “Works. Crime in the city this summer was down 23 percent from last year and 10 percent below the five-year average, according to the Downtown Alliance.
- Healing Streets’ work included 71 “grief circles” and 10 “community mediations” from January to August.
- Awakening, described as a “violence prevention and early intervention program,” worked with 76 homes from January to September through St. Paul’s Park and recreation for children ages 6 to 14.
Tendency of crime in ST. Paul
A look at this year’s killings reveals that 26 of those killed were in gunfire; Last year till this date, there were 19 fatal shootings. According to police department data, 151 people were injured in the firing from Tuesday versus 140 from October 5, 2020. Reports of firing are up 3 percent year-on-year.
Police department data shows that reports of domestic assault, rape and theft are on the rise, while reports of serious assault and theft have decreased. There has been a 30 per cent decline in robberies this year as compared to the same period last year.
St. Paul’s dashboard on community-first public safety can be found at bit.ly/CFPSdashboard.