Minneapolis PD chief links recent crime to 'lack of accountability' for teens

Not enough is being done to hold teen offenders accountable for their actions in Minneapolis, Police Chief Brian O'Hara said Monday during a community meeting on crime in south Minneapolis.

O'Hara made the remarks Monday while speaking with residents in the Lake Harriet area about a weekend crime spree in the area. City officials report police responded to three aggravated robberies and two attempted aggravated robberies over the course of hours on Saturday in the late morning and early afternoon.

Anxious homeowners who've lived near Lake Harriet for decades are alarmed and on high alert this week.

Authorities say the criminals used two stolen cars and approached people walking alone, with the threat of a handgun in all but one of the crimes. Crimes that victims say appear to be orchestrated by children. A neighbor's camera captured this incident at 47th and Humboldt.

At the virtual community meeting joined by hundreds on Monday, Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty, and Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara gave an update. An extremely concerned O'Hara said negative reinforcement is almost encouraging the behavior, calling out a lack of accountability for juvenile offenders as the heart of the problem.

"We take them into custody, they're not being booked, they're being immediately released," said O'Hara. "If they're the driver, oftentimes they're given a monitoring device that we have seen several times that the kids then cut off and then continue to engage in the behavior. So without having any method of holding kids accountable, without having any support."

"We don't have enough appropriate facilities to put them in," Moriarty responded. "We are working very hard to try to get youth the services that they need."

Moriarty says they have just nine facilities designed to hold children who commit crimes, not all of which are in Hennepin County. She says she went to lawmakers to plead for more funding for youth facilities.

"We are working very hard to try to get youth the services that they need," she added. "We're trying to make sure that we are getting our systems to communicate, and we are working very hard to get violence prevention in place for the coming summer."