After community pushback over lack of engagement for a new Third Police Precinct, Minneapolis city leaders on Monday unveiled an additional possible location more than three years after the old building was torched in the days after George Floyd’s murder.
The new option, announced Monday at a news conference attended by Mayor Jacob Frey, Council President Andrea Jenkins and Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander, would move the Third Precinct and all of its personnel into Century Plaza, a building on the edge of downtown Minneapolis near the Convention Center. Plans to move the First Precinct and its personnel into the building are already underway, and officials said adding the Third Precinct officers into the same building will require adding floors to the existing building.
The new option is meant to bridge the divide on the issue between community members and city officials. But while city leaders have insisted on putting the new city building within the precinct’s geographic boundary, many residents view any new building as a reminder of trauma caused by Derek Chauvin’s murder of Floyd in 2020 and decades of discriminatory policing.
As of now, Third Precinct officers are working out of the First Precinct station downtown, miles away from their jurisdiction.
“My thought was if we have the First Precinct moving into this building, why can’t we really co-locate the Third Precinct there while we work with community to try to hear and understand what are the real issues and concerns about the current site, about alternative sites and really trying to come to some consensus that we haven’t been able to come to up to this point,” said Jenkins, who was credited with the idea.
This third location comes as the city considers two potential locations within the Third Precinct — a new location a few blocks from the old building, and rebuilding on the spot where the old building stands. The former would cost about twice as much as the latter. But both spots were met with concerns from residents in the area about the lack of input from community members as the city conducted its yearlong process whittling down the options for a site.
A community engagement survey conducted by a consulting group found that 66% of respondents preferred the old building be rebuilt on its former site, but Frey called the results “inconclusive” because respondents were only given the option between the two sites.
“In the survey itself, some of those people that selected that old Third Precinct option truly didn’t want a third precinct anywhere in the third precinct if you read the commentary itself, or if you joined one of the community safety listening sessions that were held,” he said.
At a City Council meeting Tuesday, Ward 9 Council member Jason Chavez echoed some of his constituents during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, saying that he’s grateful the report was done but recognizes that ultimately many of his constituents did not fill out the survey because they don’t agree with the options and oppose the process.
“Under no circumstances should the city of Minneapolis build this Third Precinct police station at the former Lake and Minnehaha location located in Ward nine which I proudly represent,” he said. “My constituents in particular have made that very clear.”
Frey said the proposal to move the Third Precinct headquarters downtown was due to the location being very close to the border between the First and Third Precinct jurisdictions and for its proximity to the downtown exit for Interstate 35W — both factors that can help contribute to faster 911 response times.
Heather Johnston, the city’s interim chief operations officer, said First Precinct personnel are expected to be in the new space by next July. The city is still looking into how much the Third Precinct move would cost, but should the council approve that option, officers from both precincts could be sharing the space by late 2024 or early 2025, she said.
The results of the survey will be presented to a City Council Committee of the Whole on Tuesday.
Editor’s note: This story was updated after Tuesday’s City Council meeting to add a quote from Minneapolis City Council Member Jason Chavez.