Minneapolis has transferred about $700,000 from the police department’s budget to “credible-messenger programs,” in which former gangsters, convicts and anti-violence activists try to bring violent disputes to peaceful conclusions, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Minneapolis pays Agape—a so-called credible-messenger organization with about 30 members—to purchase and distribute food to the homeless and drug-addicted, help community members find employment, patrol the streets, and resolve conflicts.
“That’s my thing is feeding people,” said Agape employee Tyrone Allen who buys tacos in bulk and then gives them to local addicts to distribute. “If I can help somebody in some way, shape or form, I’m good with that.”
Last year, the Minneapolis City Council cut $8 million from the police department’s $179 million budget.
That money will contribute to these re-imagined public safety initiatives, like buying tacos for drug addicts.
Sasha Cotton, director of the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention, said that the city needs space to handle its own problems without police intervention.
“We want that to be our first attempt,” she said. “And if that doesn’t work, then there are law enforcement or other aspects.”
Minneapolis hired an outside group to analyze homicides, gang shootings and recidivism in high-crime areas after credible-messenger groups come into them.
Preliminary results do not look good. Homicides doubled from 41 in 2019 to 82 in 2020.
This year’s murder rate is on track to surpass last year’s. As of Aug. 8, Minneapolis had seen 52 murders, up from 47 at the same time last year, Pioneer Press reported.
Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said she opposes the credible-messenger program because Agape’s employees do not have mental health training.