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Group organizes Minneapolis residents with public safety concerns

'Operation Safety Now' launched a website to sign up residents to speak at council meetings and contact council members directly

MINNEAPOLIS — A group of citizens is organizing and encouraging people in Minneapolis to share their opinions before next year's police budget is decided.

This comes after a contentious committee meeting.

In a split vote Tuesday, the Minneapolis City Council approved giving money to other departments to help MPD curb the rise in violent crime this year.

It was a fiery city council meeting concerning half a million dollars to hire officers from other departments to help Minneapolis Police.

"If you have an idea how to do this better, please let me know. I've been doing this job for three decades. I'm coming to you and saying we need these resources," Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said at one point. "If you choose to say no to these victims of crime, then please stand by that."

Several council members took offense.

"No strategy. No plan. Shut up and pay us. That's all I'm hearing on this call. That's all I'm hearing," Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said.

And the final vote reflected divisions that exist on the Minneapolis City Council when it comes to fighting crime while still aiming to "reimagine" policing in the city.

Seven voted yes to pay for outside help. Six voted no.  

And the bigger discussion concerning MPD's budget for next year begins next week. 

That's what Bill Rodriguez is focusing on now.

"We call our group 'Operation Safety Now,'" Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez's family was burglarized this summer. And since launching his group, he's heard from victims of violent crime from all over the city.

"Hearing from these other crime victims is really eye opening, because you realize how widespread this problem is across the city," Rodriguez said.

His group launched a public information website this week to help residents sign up to speak at the City Council meetings addressing the police budget on Monday and December 2nd -- as well as showing how to email council members.

Besides wanting public safety improved, Rodriguez says the city council needs to better show exactly how they are addressing the problem.

"I think its safe to say the average resident recognizes there is a lot more crime going on today than there has been in the last few years here in Minneapolis. They're just not certain what city leaders are actually doing to make this thing better," he said.

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