Inside Operation Endeavor: How Minneapolis PD is working to fight crime

FOX 9 went along with Minneapolis police as they carried out Operation Endeavor, a crime-fighting effort that has faced some criticism as being too focused on the downtown area or being more of the same.

But Operation Endeavor is pulling in additional resources from various units and precincts. It's a daily operation rather than a sporadic effort. There is a full-time investigator assigned that will prepare the case to hand over to a Hennepin County Attorney, keeping more cops on the street. Also, that attorney is embedded in the unit.

Tuesday, FOX 9's Karen Scullin went along to find out what a typical day is like for the unit within Endeavor called "REACT."

FOX 9 was there as police knocked on the door of a suspected drug house. Operation Endeavor brings MPD’s REACT team to a BCA warrant being executed on the north side. Going after illegal drugs is one-way Endeavor is targeting gun violence.

"You would think the biggest deterrent or displacement of violent crime would be like getting guns off the street, right?" said Sgt. Andrew Shroeder with the REACT Team. "It’s actually not. The biggest displacement of violent crime is the recovery of fentanyl."

This hit resulted in 8,000, an ounce of fentanyl, 4 ounces of meth and four people heading to jail. Operation Endeavor is the vision of Commander Jason Case.

"Once Commissioner Alexander got here and, you know, he kind of said, let's let's try to do something here," said Case.

Collaboration, planning, and strategy isn’t new but instead of one day or a week, it’s every day and night, working off data from the last 12 to 72 hours.

Back to the mission, just an hour later, we moved to south Minneapolis for a Washington County warrant on a felon with a parole violation. Nothing inside but police say his car had four pounds of meth, three guns, a Taser, $7,000 in cash, mushrooms, steroids, and 20 empty bags of what used to contain meth. Police say likely flushed when they first knocked.

The efforts to recover guns, drugs and criminals continue with another arrest and warrant – weed and an illegal amount of edibles. These hot spot warrants are the mobile part of Endeavor. They happen day and night. If nothing’s burning, the team will walk a beat or check in with partners like the Office of Violence Prevention or community teams.

Now what you might be more familiar with is the downtown operation of Endeavor.  There’s a lot more visibility – but there’s more than presence here and walking the beat.

We spotted a man on a surveillance camera selling what appeared to be crack cocaine near Hennepin and Ninth. The kind of activity police are working on eradicating for the 100,000 or so people that are in the downtown district every weekday.

"That’s a big part of this plan to disrupt a person's belief that they can just do whatever it is they want," said Sgt. Shroeder. "They don't have the right to just participate in criminal activity."

But in the first three months, the downtown operation will only be about 7,000 hours of manpower to the 23,000 hours the REACT team will put in and cold weather months won’t deter the efforts.

"Maybe we take the foot beats and we put them in the skyways," said Commander Case. "But the whole idea is to give people that sense of calm and presence that we are here, we're not going anywhere and if you need us you can call us."

We’re told Operation Endeavor is a new way of policing and that it’s inspiring to the officers involved, going after crime, and helping people feel safe 24/7.

"I think that’s part of it," said Commander Case. "Getting that sense of purpose, you know that we’re doing something."

Now, this is just a small snapshot of this new approach and we'll continue to monitor it in the months ahead. Since it's only two weeks in, real data is not yet available. But there will be data 28 days in, or around October 26.

Police do say dozens of guns and a lot of illegal drugs have been confiscated, but we’re told the data released will include much more than that like documented interactions with members of the community.