MINNEAPOLIS — It’s a highway safety initiative that’s bringing the heat in Minneapolis, as part of the State Patrol’s 10 days of Highway Enforcement for Aggressive Traffic violations.
"It's a 10-day plan for us to put some resources in a specific area and try to make a difference and reevaluate from there," said Colonel Matt Langer.
From 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. through Feb. 24, patrols will heat up in the areas of I-94 between downtown stretching through I-694 through North Minneapolis into Brooklyn Center.
It's an area of town which Langer says they’ve received several complaints.
"Anyone who drives that area knows that people are driving really fast and often times driving aggressively. It's also a corridor that in the past month or so has two different shootings on the freeway itself," said Langer.
But not everyone is on board with what some are calling aggressive policing.
"This does not do anything to make us safer as a community," said Michelle Gross, president of the organization Communities United Against Police Brutality.
KARE 11's Deevon Rahming asked Colonel Langer, "you have a lot of community groups and local activists who say this is strategically targeted at communities of color, is that the case?”
To which Langer responded, "absolutely not, this is targeted based on the problems on interstate 94 that we, to be quite clear, we hear from people saying come do something about it.”
For Gross, the problems in this corridor aren’t just limited to North Minneapolis.
"There's no question we have a crime problem, but the way that you address the crime problem in the broader city of Minneapolis, in Uptown, in Kenwood, every part of Minneapolis is not to target only North Minneapolis," said Gross. She went on to say, "these kinds of violations occur in all parts of the community.”
"We have plans in place right now to move this intensive area around," said Langer.
In the meantime for the task at hand…
"The number one reason that we’re pulling people over right now is for speed so the number one way to not get pulled over as part of this project is to drive the speed limit," he said.
Monday was the first night of the effort and officials say they stopped 37 cars for speeding, and made 9 arrests, including for a DWI and an outstanding warrant.
They say they also found a stolen car in the span of four hours.
A full statement from the group Communities United Against Police Brutality can be read below:
The Minnesota State Patrol today announced a 10-day program of targeting drivers on Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and Interstate 694 for speeding and other infractions. They refer to this program as HEAT. That portion of I-94 runs through communities of color including North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center.
The ostensible purpose of this program is to “stop speeders and catch criminals” according to the State Patrol media release. However, the State Patrol has made it clear that they will stop people for other infractions such as expired license plates or having items hanging from the rearview mirror.
There is no evidence that people are more prone to speeding or committing crimes on the targeted stretch of highway than on any other. Instead, this appears to be the kind of discriminatory targeting of people of color that led to the death of Daunte Wright. It is not lost on us that Brooklyn Center is one of the targeted communities.
Communities United Against Police Brutality condemns all discriminatory law enforcement activities and specifically condemns the State Patrol’s HEAT program. We demand this poorly conceived plan be curtailed.