‘Operation Safe Summer’: An Exclusive Look Inside Minneapolis Police’s Violent Crime Initiative

13 June 2022

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Increased gun violence, carjackings and assaults on Minneapolis streets are the focus of a Safe Summer initiative led by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Operation Safe Summer Greater Minneapolis Violent Crime Initiative began on May. But for the past week, a number of law enforcement agencies collaborated to get some of the most violent criminals, as well as their guns and drugs, off the street.

WCCO’s Reg Chapman has exclusive access to the detail.

MPD Sgt. Andrew Schroeder leads roll call, making sure officers and deputies from multiple departments know what they are up against.

“In 2021, you see 47 percent of our gunshot victims are in north Minneapolis, followed by the 3rd Precinct with 28 percent,” Schroeder said.

An increasing number of victims are being killed by automatic gunfire, created by a switch or auto sears, illegally sold to alter semi-automatic weapons — like the one used in a homicide on North 18th and Sheridan avenues.

“It’s unbelievable, and unacceptable,” Schroeder said.

Committed to stopping this activity are members of MPD, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the ATF, FBI, DEA, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and the Department of Justice.

Most of the violence happens in the Fourth Precinct. LaTrisha Vetaw represents Ward 4 and joined roll call to commend law enforcement on the work being done to keep people safe.

“This is amazing, like how we’ve come together around public safety,” Vetaw said. “The service that you’re providing in this community is what people want to see on 36th and Penn, want to see on Broadway, want to see on Lake Street, and I encourage you to keep up the good work.”

“I think it’s a big deal out of the 60 arrests we’ve made, we haven’t had a reportable use of force. That to me is huge,” Schroeder said. “We want those people off the street. You’ve shown already that you’ve been charged with a violent crime or they have probable cause to arrest you, that’s part of what we’re doing this week in the Greater Minneapolis Gun Violence Initiative is to try and get some of these shooters off the street.”

Within minutes, Schroeder and his team located a man who ran from them earlier. Armed with a search warrant, officers surrounded the suspect’s vehicle, and he tries to run again.

Officers fired a 40mm less-lethal round through the rear window. After further non-compliance, officers fired another round, but this one contained a chemical spray to soon led the minivan’s occupants to surrender.

Inside the vehicle, police found what they were looking for in their search warrant: a firearm with an extended magazine and a round in the chamber, and prescription pills.

(credit: CBS)

“All the while this is happening, there is a shooting, a carjacking and two more people with gun calls,” Schroeder said.

While others in the detail respond to those calls, shots from another car sent a BMW speeding down Lowry Avenue. It collided with this Porsche turning from Penn Avenue. A bullet hole is visible in the rear driver’s side tail light.

“Where the clip is for the seatbelt, the bullet is in there,” Schroeder said. “It’s incredible no one’s dead.”

While MPD processed the scene, others went searching for the shooter.

“Within 40 minutes we have a shooter in custody. That doesn’t happen without our partnerships with all these shared agencies,” he said.

An ATF canine uncovered drugs and a gun inside the vehicle where the shots came from.

“These are what people are overdosing on every day, and then another gun,” he said.

So far, this detail has made more than 97 arrests, including multiple shooting and carjacking suspects – and three people wanted for murder.

Thirty-eight illegal firearms were recovered, including four with switches.

Seventeen stolen vehicles were also recovered, with at least five being carjacked vehicles.

This work s inn direct response of pleas from people who live here.

“If you listen to the residents, you listen to the business owners, they are tired of being afraid. They’re tired of not being able to live their lives the way they want to live them,” said Maj. Dewanna Witt with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

The special detail ran for five days, ending early Sunday morning.

Members of the Greater Minneapolis Crime Initiative also made arrests in Brooklyn Park, New Hope — and even tracked a fugitive to Bemidji.

Final numbers from the detail will be released by MPD later this week.

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