End of 18-plus nights at problem clubs in Minneapolis - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

End of 18-plus nights at problem clubs in Minneapolis to fight crime

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MINNEAPOLIS -

Minneapolis officials are increasing their efforts to prevent crime in downtown Minneapolis' Warehouse District on the weekends.

Officials say 80 percent of the crimes being committed in the area take place on Saturdays and Sundays, and 80 percent of those crimes occur on Sunday not.

Top city officials held a press conference on Thursday to announce and discuss increased safety measure. 

The plan of attack includes changing ordinances -- such as limiting liquor licenses -- and devising requirements so that problem club owners will be able to employ to improve security.

The biggest change is that the 18-and-over nights at some problem clubs will now be a thing of the past, and increased police patrols will continue while the city looks to change how business is done in the area.

"Obviously, the main issue here is safety -- and Sunday nights are a big issue down here," said Joanne Kaufman, executive director for the Warehouse District Business Association.

The move comes in response to a 63 percent rise in violent crime downtown; although, it's rarely witnessed by the majority of the public, as it typically happens after the 2 a.m. bar closing time.

The pattern of violence and crime is fueled by crowds and events in a three-block area of the Warehouse District, leading to shootings, stabbings and plenty of fights. The main offenders often have just left downtown nightclubs that hold concerts and events open to people 18 and older on Sunday nights.

Minneapolis Police have upped patrols at these times on the downtown streets -- including more officers on the streets, horse patrols, joint beat patrols with Hennepin County deputies and Metro Transit Police, probation beats and mobile cameras aimed at deterring crime. Despite these public safety upgrades, the same problems persisted.

Now, the city says it has agreements from owners of the so-called "problem clubs" to stop hosting the underage nights through Labor Day, and they will also hire off-duty officers to work security and conduct background checks on employees.

No direct consequences for violating the agreement has been specified, but Mayor R.T. Rybak said plainly that he would take action and publicly scold any club that continues to be a nuisance.

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