MINNEAPOLIS - Sunday night has become an unlikely achilles heel for police in downtown Minneapolis, as they battle increasing incidents of crime and violence after bar closing.
Recent statistics show a rise in crime downtown Sunday nights into early Monday mornings. City leaders say the spike is being fed by crowds and events at and around a small number of establishments all located in a three block area of the Warehouse District.
On Thursday afternoon city leaders and police officials gathered with reporters to discuss the crime problems and possible solutions, both at the political and law enforcement level.
City Council members say they will begin crafting an ordinance that will make it easier for the city to attach conditions when issuing new and old liquor licenses. They will also move to place conditions on licenses that allow non-alcohol serving establishments to operate.
A number of clubs in the warehouse district have recently started holding concerts and events on Sunday nights for patrons that are under the age of 21. Police say it is those customers that are at the root of many of the crime and violence problems.
City officials and law enforcement have approached some of those clubs and asked for changes. A number of license holders have agreed to not hold 18+ events, say they will introduce enhanced wristbands for people under 21, increase staffing of uniformed security and off-duty police, and conduct criminal background checks on staff members.
"We plant to get very tough if somebody is contributing to some of the issues where things are getting out of line," Mayor R.T. Rybak said.
The stepped-up measures are expected to continue through Labor Day.
Minneapolis Police have already increased street patrols Sunday nights, beefed-up horse patrols, enlisted the help of Hennepin County deputies and Metro Transit Police, and added mobile cameras to capture images of suspects in the act.
Despite these efforts Sunday night crime problems persist in the warehouse district.
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