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Hennepin Co. Attorney Launches HEALS 2.0 Partnership To Halt Crime Surge

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Mayors, police chiefs, attorneys and other Twin Cities leaders are joining forces to try stop the surge in crime.

Organized by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, the partnership is called MN HEALS 2.0. It stand for Minnesota Hope, Education, Law and Safety.

The "2.0" references a similarly broad effort Freeman led in the late 1990s. He says it was successful in reducing crime.

Rev. Jerry McAfee of New Baptist Church, Bishop Harding Smith, Steve Cramer of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, Edina Mayor Jim Hovland, and Minneapolis City Council members Linea Palmisano and Lisa Goodman are some of the people included in the partnership.

Freeman says HEALS 2.0 includes "deeper involvement in the business community, the faith community, community groups, along with law enforcement and some innovative techniques to try to get at the root of some of this violent juvenile crime."

At least 100 people met on Monday, according to Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok, who was there. Farniok holds a leadership position with the Hennepin County Chiefs of Police Association.

"We want to get everybody to the table so that we're not pointing fingers," Farniok said.

Mike Freeman
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman (credit: CBS)

He says though that police are doing their job making arrests, many crimes are committed by the same people. Last week, Farniok and the HCCPA sent Freeman a letter saying criminals aren't consistently being held accountable.

In response, Freeman told WCCO, "There's lots of misinformation there. The Hennepin County Attorney's Office has been very aggressive about charging particularly violent crimes. We have charged over 80% of all the carjacking cases given to us."

Freeman also condemned finger pointing, yet noted Minneapolis police have a hard time bringing him cases because they're down officers.

In general, Freeman says he believes prison should be reserved for "extremely violent" crimes.

With regards to more juveniles committing violent crimes, Freeman says some repeat offenders should be tried as adults, but "sometimes it's a kid just along for a joyride, and we don't think their life ought to be profoundly impacted by the criminal justice system."

Farniok says the HCCPA is gathering a list of specific cases to bring to Freeman as examples of when they feel there wasn't enough accountability.

Freeman says he'll meet again with the community stakeholders in the coming weeks.

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