The 2nd Precinct’s new Crime Prevention Specialist, Abdirashid (Rashid) Ali, said that his recent visits to Northeast neighborhood meetings have been eye-opening.
Ali’s first day on the job was November 27. He took over the area known as Sector 2, after former Crime Prevention Specialist (CPS) Susan Webb moved to the Minneapolis Police Department’s sex crimes unit. Sector 2 lies north of Broadway, south of 37th Avenue, west of Stinson and east of the Mississippi River. It includes the 10 Northeast neighborhoods of Audubon Park, Columbia Park, Waite Park, Northeast Park, Holland, Marshall Terrace, Sheridan, Bottineau, Logan Park, and Windom Park.
Ali began work by shadowing fellow CPS Nick Juarez, whose area, Sector 1, lies south of Broadway. Sector 1 includes the Northeast neighborhoods of St. Anthony East, St. Anthony West, and Beltrami, as well as some Southeast Minneapolis neighborhoods and the University of Minnesota.
A CPS is an unarmed civilian who works closely with police officers and residents. Formerly known as CCP/SAFE, CPS personnel are based in local precinct stations; in Northeast, the 2nd Precinct’s address is 1911 Central Ave. NE. They help form block clubs and train block club leaders. They issue crime alerts and work with neighbors and property owners on problem properties. Upon request, they will also conduct safety inspections of businesses, rental units or houses. A CPS visits neighborhood group meetings, offering personal safety tips and neighborhood risk assessments. They promote National Night Out and precinct open houses and attend monthly 2PAC meetings. 2PAC is a citizen group that meets the second Monday at Monroe Village, 1900 Central Ave. NE.
Ali said the people in Northeast have impressed him. “You can tell by the attendance at neighborhood meetings that expectations are high in the 2nd Precinct. Neighbors are dedicated to preventing crime, and they’re also dedicated to each other. It’s refreshing to see that. It was eye-opening for me.”
Ali immigrated to the United States with his family from Somalia when he was 8 years old. He grew up in Minnesota and attended Whittier International Elementary School, Anthony Middle School (both in South Minneapolis), and Southwest High School. He took classes at Minneapolis Community and Technical College before transferring to the University of Minnesota, where he majored in English Literature.
“I planned to teach as an ELL (English Language Learner) teacher,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to become a writer.” He said his hobbies include playing basketball, traveling, and supporting his favorite team, FC Barcelona.
Ali worked for two years as an associate educator at Andersen United Community School, a pre-K-8 in South Minneapolis. His jobs there included helping students and assisting teachers and administrators. Ali is bilingual; he also contacted parents and acted as an interpreter. “I had a lot of different roles,” he added. “Essentially, I was a behavior dean at Andersen.”
He said he became interested in working for the City of Minneapolis, and wanted a job where he could use his language and liaison skills. The CPS job requires a person who is a good listener and can get a feel for what people are concerned about, he added.
According to city crime statistics, the 2nd Precinct’s rate is lower than other areas. (On an average week, however, the 2nd Precinct responds to more than a thousand 911 calls for service.)
Ali said Northeast has seen a recent “uptick” in burglaries. “In the majority of times, the homeowners have not been home,” he added. “The burglaries have been scattered through different neighborhoods. We’re working hard to detect patterns. We’ve been reminding people to lock their garages and not leave their car keys in the car.”
The inspector’s perspective
Todd Loining, 2nd Precinct Inspector, agreed with Ali’s crime assessment.
“We got hit hardest this year by burglaries,” Loining said. “Many of those were from unsecured garages. There are always people out there scouting the streets and alleys, looking for easy opportunities. Snow blowers are prime targets, because thieves want something of value. They drive vans or trucks and move quickly.
“We keep reminding people to help themselves by taking responsibility. This week we had 13 vehicles stolen, and 12 of those were taken with the keys in them.”
The police, Loining added, do their best to let neighbors know what is happening. In that respect, the precinct’s crime prevention specialists offer a “tremendous point of contact, acting as liaisons to the community. They keep people informed by door knocking, posting fliers, sending e-mails and issuing crime advisories.
“This is where people live and raise their families,” Loining said. “When something traumatic or scary happens in a neighborhood, everybody wants to feel like they’re safe. The crime prevention specialists are easily accessible. They develop working relationships with the community and are strong team members of our police department.
“Rashid Ali has been on the job about six weeks,” Loining said. “He is clearly a people person: upbeat, enthusiastic, and eager to learn. He’s been a great addition.”
Ali recently attended a neighborhood meeting at Northeast Park. “It was my first night solo,” he said. “I’m really encouraged to work with people in Northeast. I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Ali can be reached at Abdirashid.firstname.lastname@example.org, or 612-673-2784.