MINNEAPOLIS — In a ballroom Wednesday night, more than 100 community leaders and mayors around the country gathered in Minneapolis to kick-off the Cities United Conference with a candid conversation on policing, crime, and uplifting the minority communities in cities around the country like Minneapolis.
Mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges was one of several panelists that included Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, and Luz María Frías of the Minneapolis YWCA.
The group Cities United was created in 2011 by former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to forge a national network. Hodges currently sits on the Cities United Advisory Board.
Throughout the discussion, Hodges gave insight to the difficulties of being mayor, noting it was the “worst feeling” when calls from police officers come in at all hours of the day notifying her that “another member of the community had died at the hands of another.”
During the night, Hodges also told one audience member that “people are happier if they live in mixed income neighborhoods.”
As the conversation shifted, Hodges told the crowd that she found the response by communities and cities on how they deal with crime as trivial.
“Calling for more officers and crack downs is a response of fear,” Hodges told the audience, noting that she wanted to set aside money in this year’s budget and the next to invest in a collaborative-type community policing.
Hodges followed by explaining conversations she had with the community following the death of Jamar Clark, stating members of the community want to be more involved and know what will work best to stop the rampant crime in their community. Overall, Hodges believes this type of policing system will further develop a trust between the community and the police officers that serve.
The panel also acknowledged the shift in policing during President Barack Obama’s administration. Hodges noted the change to 21st century policing and police culture should allow law enforcement officers to “shift from warriors to guardians.”
The Mayor of District Heights, Maryland asked the panel to explain “Why do we do dumb stuff like that?” The question was in reference to a story he shared of two men in his community being shot to death over fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
While Frías seemed to suggest that some in the black community suffer from complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and that little things could possibly push them over the edge. Hodges piggybacked on Frías statement, agreeing with the sentiments, sharing how her own struggles with alcoholism and being a victim of sexual assault as a child has taken a toll on her as an adult.
The panel lasted a little more than two hours. The Cities United Conference will continue downtown through Friday.