Minneapolis leaders share successful repeat offender program with Seattle

SEATTLE – Dozens of people attended a Public Safety Forum Monday night with guest speakers from the City of Minneapolis touching on the repeat offender problem.

The Midwest city implemented the “Downtown 100 Program” nine years ago, and data from Minneapolis shows long-term reductions in recidivism.

The out-of-town panelists included Minneapolis Police, city attorneys, a probation officer and two members of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District.

“We’ve had a significant decrease in recidivism with a lot of the folks,” said Ron Cunningham, Downtown 100 probation officer in Hennepin County, Minnesota. “We do weekly meetings to talk about what’s going on as a whole in the city, and we also talk about individual people, what’s going on with them, and try to strategize about what can we do with them.”

The forum took place at AXIS Pioneer Square. Dozens of people who live downtown and own businesses in Seattle attended the event, alongside Seattle Police and leaders from the City of Seattle and King County.

The panel answered questions from the audience, who had strong opinions about the outside input.

“This was a joke. This means nothing. They brought a group from Minneapolis that has a completely different problem and they’re trying to sell us to use their solution for our problem that doesn’t have anything to do with their problem,” said Ty Meyers, owner of Felix Tattoo in Pioneer Square.

The visitors from Minnesota did a walk-through of downtown Seattle during their trip and say they are blown away by the amount of growth the city continues to experience.

Assistant Chief of Police Mike Kjos of the Minneapolis Police Department said the Seattle Police Department should equally reflect that growth in its force.

Some of the speakers from Minneapolis also noted the open air drug dealing and illegal drug use that is openly done on the streets.

“A lot of times there’s an interesting person that’s inside there,” said Cunningham, based on his experience as a probation officer. “It’s hard to get inside that person, so that’s kind of all the challenge, to just kind of chip away so I can figure out who that person is and what’s important for them and what they want to do. and sometimes that involves a period of time of sitting in jail.”

A members of the Seattle Police Department said their officers took a trip out to Minneapolis several months ago to visit with the department and learn more about their operations in dealing with repeat offenders.