Crafting a Safe and Welcoming Minneapolis
Over 34 million people travel to Minneapolis each year looking to enjoy the thriving art scene, outdoor culture, and friendly atmosphere. With tourism on track to return to its pre-pandemic levels throughout 2023 and 2024, the city continues to be well equipt for its visitors by streamlining its cleaning, safety, and hospitality efforts.
The dispatch center, located within the 1st Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), houses a small team of people who operate as the eyes and ears for Downtown Minneapolis around the clock. This group of individuals relays information to the Ambassadors on the streets, assists the unhoused population by connecting them with the right services, and works to prevent crime when possible.
“We work in tandem with law enforcement. For our Ambassadors, we are the extra eyes and ears in case of emergencies or if they need any information, ” describes Lyle, a dispatch team member.
In partnership with 70 plus downtown businesses, the Minneapolis Police Department, and the DID Ambassador program, the dispatch team manages reliable and effective communication between the outlets. This pristine communication network ensures safety and outstanding hospitality on the city streets.
“There are many moving pieces between all the things we monitor and the groups we connect with,” Victoria, the dispatch manager, adds.
With access to 127 cameras in the downtown districts, dispatch can spot unusual behavior and send in the right team. Some instances include requesting Emergency Medical Services to help a hurt individual, reporting an offense to MPD for further investigation, directing Ambassadors away from possible danger, and sending in Livability to assist unhoused community members.
“We have the ability to spot things and get the right people on the scene. For example, we can spot individuals who need welfare checks and send out Livability to check up on them,” says Lyle.
In addition to monitoring the streets, the dispatch center is closely connected to the business security offices through the radio-link system. This radio communication network between the dispatch team and the downtown institutions is another layer of added security. To be a part of the communication radio-link network, businesses must meet certain criteria within their safety protocols, for example participating in roll call during designated times.
Business security can provide more awareness for the dispatch team beyond the outdoor premises with their access to cameras within buildings. During large events such as concerts and sporting events, dispatch will facilitate a perimeter check to ensure the rooftops, skyways, and parking ramps are safe and secure.
“We want to have this high level of awareness to ensure we are on the same page,” Katherine, a dispatch member, adds.
Beyond looking out for the safety of the downtown community and the Ambassadors, the dispatch elevates the quality of the hospitality services. In real-time, the dispatch team can pinpoint answers such as business hours and locations, bus routes and schedules, and much more. This allows Ambassadors to perform excellent hospitality, no matter the question.
“It is great to know that we are not out there on our own,” says Terry, a DID Safety Ambassador.
For more than eleven years, the powerful collaboration between the dispatch team, downtown businesses, law enforcement, and hospitality programming still continues to deliver non-emergency services in Downtown Minneapolis efficiently. All the services working in sync create a safer, cleaner, and friendlier environment for residents and visitors.
“We are the behind-the-scenes resource, making sure we provide extra protection and safety for downtown and our Ambassadors,” Lyle says.