Community members will evaluate a block club program aimed at improving safety in Marcy-Holmes at an upcoming neighborhood meeting.
Block club leaders keep in contact with police and inform residents about local crime trends and alerts in a specific area within the neighborhood. The program, which will be discussed at a Feb. 4 Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association meeting, would encourage residents to join block clubs.
“It’s just kind of like a quick and efficient liaison,” said Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association Executive Director Chris Lautenschlager.
The program would provide community members with $100 to improve the safety of their homes through alarms or improved lock systems if they commit to be a block club leader for two years. Residents can earn $50 for helping to spread awareness of the program.
Minneapolis Police Department crime prevention specialist Nick Juarez will discuss the program at the meeting along with MPD 2nd Precinct Inspector Todd Loining.
“The more communication that we have with the neighborhood association, or even just the neighborhood in general ... the [more the] neighborhoods know exactly what’s going on in their neighborhood when it comes to crime,” Juarez said. “And they know what we’re doing to help reduce that opportunity.”
Block club leaders also organize National Night Out events. Lautenschlager said he hopes that by increasing the number of block club leaders, Marcy-Holmes will see more events.
“What we’re trying to do is to try to get that number up, whether that’s eight to 10 to 15 National Night Out events,” Lautenschlager said. “But, usually, the first step is to make sure that there's a block club that exists.”
Block clubs exist throughout Minneapolis, but Lautenschlager said the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood has had challenges maintaining a strong block club presence, possibly because of the area’s high resident turnover.
Marcy-Holmes isn’t the only neighborhood to see its block club numbers down. Southeast Como resident and block club leader Joan Menken has seen her area’s block club numbers decrease over the years.
“I applaud [Marcy-Holmes],” Menken said. “They have the same issues, and they're a larger neighborhood than we [are], with even more rental housing and student population.”
Marcy-Holmes resident and block club leader Martha Ballard said the program is a good way to build community in the neighborhood, but that recruiting members is a challenge.
“Finding people who are willing to put in the time and effort, it does take time and work on people’s part,” Ballard said. “So, we’ll see if anybody’s interested in it.”
Lautenschlager said he would like to see block clubs throughout the neighborhood, especially in the east side, where he isn’t aware of any existing clubs.
“Before this meeting, the neighborhood association, we don't run or operate any block clubs, and, after this meeting, we won't run or operate any block clubs. We’re just supporting ones that exist or supporting the creation of new ones,” Lautenschlager said. “We’re just trying to draw attention to this and respond to a community concern about safety.”