MPLS outlines next phase for Harvard University safety report | #schoolsaftey

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis leaders say they’re ready to take another step forward with their plan to reimagine public safety in the city following the murder of George Floyd and a federal investigation into discriminatory policing.

The announcement comes on the heels of a city-commissioned safety plan produced by Harvard University that came out in July called the Safe and Thriving Communities Report.

In a press conference Monday, city leaders, including the mayor and newly appointed community safety commissioner, said they’re ready to start implementing recommendations from the Harvard report, and said they plan to partner with yet another university to do so.

Harvard’s Dr. Antonio Oftelie, who grew up in Minneapolis, also attended the press conference. He and a team spent a couple of years developing the 143-page report for the city. It centers around three services, including preventive services. 

“Those are things that are getting more to the root cause of challenges in communities,” Oftelie said. “From violence prevention to education services to veteran workforce development.”

The report also recommends responsive services, which Oftelie says involves alternative responses to emergencies in addition to police.

“So if something happens in a community for a family or an individual and they call 911, 911 has the ability to say, ‘What mix of services can we send out to this community or this person to make sure that we respond with the most appropriate form of response,'” he said.

Finally, the report recommends restorative services, which Oftelie explained would come into play following a traumatic event.

“This helps people to get back into community,” he said. “You know, ‘Here are things we can do to right now to make sure that you feel safe.'”

After the press conference, the city’s Performance Management & Innovation Director Kira Hasbargen presented city council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee with an update on the Harvard report as well as a request.

They’re requesting a $1 million, two-year contract with New York University School of Law and its Reimagining Public Safety Policing Project.

“The Policing Project is designed to support strong, healthy and safe communities and to end an overreliance on police,” Hasbargen told the committee.

Dr. Oftelie would still be involved as well as Community Safety Commissioner Todd Barnette.

“We need to establish internal partnerships, which we’re doing, external partnerships, and collabo rations to address the diverse needs of our residents,” Barnette told media.

They say the money would come from existing funds. Committee Vice Chair Robin Wonsley asked how it would work with a previous request for up to $2.5 million in federal funding to implement the Harvard report.

“That seems like work that is also listed here so just wanted to see if there is overlapping or are these somewhat separate projects,” Wonsley said.

“I think it’s a compliment to,” Hasbargen responded. “We are waiting to hear back from the Department of Justice on that grant.”

Ultimately the committee unanimously forwarded the NYU contract request to the full council for final approval. If approved, the contract would begin December first.

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