Hennepin County public-private partnership to convene in response to increasing violent crimes


In response to rising crime rates throughout Hennepin County, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman today announced that he has asked mayors, county commissioners, law enforcement, business and faith leaders to convene in a public-private partnership called MN HEALS 2.0, which stands for Minnesota Hope, Education and Law and Safety.

“The crime rates experienced in our communities in 2021 have raised important questions and concerns about approaches to prevention, law enforcement and prosecutions,” Freeman said. “Across Hennepin County, we have 37 municipalities as well as Minnesota’s largest urban area – Minneapolis. That means that shared commitments, coordinated approaches and effective partnerships are essential. It is also important that we take stock of what is working, what needs to be re-evaluated, what we can learn from our own past successes and failures and to make sure this analysis is based on facts.”

In 1997, during Freeman’s second term as county attorney, MN HEALS was a multi-sector effort to reduce violent crimes in the community. MN HEALS organized all the 16 criminal justice jurisdictions that served the Phillips neighborhood. It promoted partnerships between police and probation officers, safety centers, youth jobs programs, community and business leaders. As a result, violent crime declined by 62% in ten years, and murder fell in Minneapolis’ Third Precinct from 26 in 1995 to five in 2002.

“While there are new and different considerations in 2022, we believe there are real lessons to be taken from that earlier success,” Freeman said. “The rebirth of MN HEALS in the 2.0 iteration, must be broad based, comprehensive and bring new energy to crime prevention.”

At the invitation of Edina Mayor Jim Hovland, Freeman met with Hennepin County mayors and law enforcement leaders Monday. Freeman said MN HEALS 2.0 should focus on the most serious of violent crimes, suburban as well as urban, with a particular emphasis on recent violent juvenile carjackings. This effort should be aligned with other existing partnerships across jurisdictions within Hennepin County, including the City of Minneapolis and the existing Hennepin County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee.

Participants include: Reverend Jerry McAfee, New Baptist Church; Bishop Harding Smith; Charlie Weaver, Minnesota Business Partnership; Steve Cramer, Minneapolis Downtown Council; Chief Correy Farniok – City of Orono and President of the Hennepin County Chiefs of Police; Retired Chief Mike Risvold, City of Wayzata; Mayor Jim Hovland, City of Edina; Hennepin County Commissioner Debbie Goettel representing the southern suburbs; Commissioner Jeff Lunde representing the northern suburbs; Assistant Hennepin County Administrator Chela Guzman-Wiegert; City of Minneapolis Councilmember Linea Palmisano and Councilmember Lisa Goodman.

“We owe it to all our citizens to bring together — urgently — the key players in crime prevention: law enforcement, prosecution, workforce development, community engagement, business leaders, and others to reduce crime,” Freeman added.