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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cops reassure Lake Phalen neighbors

Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.


Blogger Bob said...

More than 200 people hear update on bat attacks, racist vandalism
By Mara H. Gottfried
Article Last Updated: 08/12/2008 06:18:59 PM CDT

There have been "three really horrible incidents" at Lake Phalen recently — two baseball bat attacks and hate graffiti on a sculpture — but St. Paul residents "never want to live in fear," Police Chief John Harrington said at a community meeting Monday night that drew more than 200 people.

Police patrols have been stepped up in the area, as has park security, officials said.

Although the meeting at the Phalen Park Recreation Center recounted what had happened, it also looked ahead to what could be done.

"This is the East Side," said City Council Member Dan Bostrom, who represents the area. "People rally around when we have some unresolved issues."

On Aug. 4, a young married couple were assaulted with baseball bats while taking a walk around the lake. Three teens with gang ties have been charged.

On Aug. 1, young people wielding bats attacked a woman in her 40s who was walking at the lake. They tried to hit her over her head repeatedly, but the woman held up her hands to protect her head. One of her fingers was severed, and she has multiple fractures in both hands and her wrist.

No arrests have been made, though investigators are doing "a full court press," Harrington said.

The victim is still in a great deal of pain but appreciates all the support she's received, her sister said.

On July 12, graffiti was found on a 7-foot-tall sculpture at the park. It was covered with the initials "KKK," swastikas and a slur about Asians during the Dragon Festival.

Police have identified "at least some of the kids" who defaced the sculpture and are getting closer to being able to make their case in court, Harrington said.

A reward fund for the unsolved crimes is being set up, Harrington said.

Ann Young, a block club leader for the east side of Lake Phalen, said she and others have noticed fewer people walking around the lake since the attacks.

"It's like a ghost town now," Young said. "It upsets me that we live right there and can't walk around a place we normally feel safe."

Patty Lammers, neighborhood safety coordinator for the Payne Phalen District 5 Planning Council, said her office hasn't received reports of fewer people at the lake.

One man who attended the meeting, Ralph Mueller, said he continues to take walks around Lake Phalen, but he said he has changed his habits. He used to walk during the dinner hour but now goes in the morning.

Harrington said there are more uniformed officers — some on horses or bicycles — and plainclothes officers in the area. A park security officer who had patrolled the general area is focusing on Lake Phalen, Parks and Recreation Director Bob Bierscheid said.

Work already had been under way to redo Phalen Park's master plan, but Bierscheid said his staff won't wait until the plan is done to see whether more or improved lighting is needed in the park

In general, the number of incidents at city parks has been down this summer, and the number of programs has been up, Bierscheid said.

Crime has dropped on the East Side more than 50 percent during the past two years, Harrington said, adding that the decline wasn't good enough.

"We want a neighborhood that is as crime-free as we can possibly make it," he said.

Mayor Chris Coleman said he'll continue boosting the police department's ranks and will announce in today's budget address that he plans to add 14 officers next year, bringing the force to 630 officers. Coleman has pledged 650 officers.

"The problem is, we can do all this work ... but it only takes one or two of these incidents to make us all feel" insecure, he said.

Officials also talked about plans to create a Phalen "peace patrol." The District 5 Planning Council will provide training and tools for citizens from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Phalen Beach House. People seeking more information can call the council at 651-774-5234.

Mara H. Gottfried can be reached at 651-228-5262.


What: Unity ceremony prompted by a sculpture being defaced with hate graffiti

When: Friday. Viewing of the sculpture begins at 6 p.m., and the ceremony at 7 p.m.

Where: Phalen Park pavilion, St. Paul

Parking: Available at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church at Arcade Street and Larpenteur Avenue. It's a short walk to the park; shuttle bus service will be available.


Becky Lee doesn't know the woman who was beaten by bat-wielding strangers last month at Lake Phalen. Neither do two of her friends.

But they were outraged by the July 25 assault, which left the woman — identified only as Tammie and suffering from breast cancer — with a severed finger, fractures in both hands and a broken wrist.

So, with the help of Tammie's sister, the three have established a fund to help her.

"We all grew up in this part of town, walked around the lake hundreds of times, and this was too much for us to bear," said Lee, of St. Paul.

Contributions to the "For the Benefit of Tammie Fund" can be directed to any American Bank branch.

— Mara H. Gottfried

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cuts to public safety are really paying off arn't they Chris Coleman?

2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mayor Coleman and the Council has increased the public safety budget since he's been in office. He's put more cops on the streets on the track of 100 before the end of next year.

Republican cuts at the Federal level (CDBG and Clinton cops) and at the state level with cuts to LGA. The numbers dropped under Randy Kelly as he created a 'shell game' in which officers who worked enough overtime to count a double, were actually counted as two FTO's. In reality a cop can't keep that up and it bound to wear on the skills.

Again, there has been no cuts in Public Safety but, don't let the facts stand in the way of working yourself into a froth.


7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Release on the Mayors 2009 Budget>

Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proposed his 2009 budget today at City Hall, announcing the City’s budget will achieve structural balance a year ahead of the schedule outlined by the Mayor previously.
“Having been left with a structural deficit in 2006, we knew that it was time to put away the credit card and live within our means. We understood that we had to stop using one-time money to pay for on-going expenses. We had to stop kicking the problem down the road and commit ourselves to resolving it once and for all,” Mayor Coleman said. “With a structurally balanced budget, we don’t spend down critical reserves or put off the maintenance of our infrastructure. We, like responsible businesses everywhere, pay current costs with current revenues.”

The Mayor’s highly anticipated budget focuses on financial stability, continuing wise investments – especially in public safety and education initiatives – and demonstrating strong management. The majority of a $6.6 million increase in the City’s levy will go to hiring more police officers to take the department to 630 and adding a “super-medic” advanced life support medical services team to the fire department.

Additionally, the Saint Paul Public Libraries will add morning hours to six branches – Arlington Hills, Hamline-Midway, Hayden Heights, Merriam Park, Rice Street and Riverview Branches – increasing total library hours throughout the City to 775 each week, the most in more than 30 years.

“In this budget, we make bold, necessary decisions. We’re moving forward with the new Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Department to improve opportunities for minority and women contractors and development of their workforce. We’re investing in long-neglected city operations and infrastructure that threatened our ability to serve residents and business owners. We’re continuing our commitment to build a strong public safety system,” Mayor Coleman said. “We still have future budgetary challenges, but this budget gives us a better foundation from which to tackle those challenges and build the Most Livable City in America.


7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those damn Republicans Eric.How come republican run suburbs run so good?

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My short answer for 8:23 is to open your eyes. The entire country is in a recession thanks to Republican policies. 8 years ago we started off with surpluses at the federal and state level, now we are facing record deficits and debts.

While the suburbs may not have the crime issue (we'll have to check on the per capita data for an accurate statement), their economic woes are up there. Two years ago I wrote about bankruptcies approaching record highs in the Western burbs (Wayzata, Plymouth, Minnetonka, Eden Praire etc). It was ablout three years ago that burbs had to ask for raise property taxes to record highs to cover for the lost of LGA (which the governor replaced for the burbs). The police departments of the burbs grew, and some were created, due to the Clinton cops program in the 1990s (100,000 new cops). Foreclosures are happening faster, per capita, in the burbs- hell drive to Shokapee and you'll see whole developments never moved in and in Albertville you'll see them incomplete and empty.

Time are tough all over Buster.


9:41 AM  

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