Fourth Precinct Property Crimes Court Watch is a community initiative which aims to hold 4th Precinct burglars and other property crime offenders accountable for their criminal actions. Through the use of community impact statements, Court Watch advises the criminal courts of the detrimental effects that burglaries and other property crimes have on the broader community. Direct victims aren’t the only ones to experience financial and emotional hardship due to burglaries. Neighbors may also feel anxiety and undue constraints on their behavior due to burglaries in the neighborhood. The broader community is also impacted by higher insurance premiums, lower property values and other impediments to economic development.
Fourth Precinct Property Crimes Court Watch’s first public meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 11 at 6:30 p.m. at North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Ave. N. Community members, prosecutors from the city and county attorneys’ offices, and representatives from the Minneapolis Police Department will be on hand. They’ll introduce the initiative and explain the Court Watch process, review the list of the most serious property offenders currently active in the 4th Precinct, discuss how the criminal justice process works regarding property crimes, and review the elements of effective community impact statements. Participants will leave with a better understanding of how the justice system works and of what they can do to help ensure meaningful outcomes. Future monthly meetings are planned for the rest of 2011 on the second Tuesday of each month at North Regional Library.
Residents and businesses in the 4th Precinct can participate in two ways. Come to our monthly community meetings to hear the latest news on the offenders, get updates from prosecutors, and learn more about the criminal justice system. You can also participate by providing impact statements when Court Watch requests them. The easiest way to do that is to sign up for the 4th Precinct’s email alert system. Log on to http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/crimealert/signup.asp and follow the on screen instructions.
Writing community impact statements is not hard. If you’re impacted by the crime in question, whether directly or indirectly, you can write a statement. A good impact statement describes how the crime has affected you, either physically, financially or emotionally. By letting the courts know the depth of the impact the crime has on our community, we can all help to ensure a just, appropriate sentence.
Court Watch works in Minneapolis. A similar initiative in the 3rd Precinct has already produced results. Since March of this year, 3rd Precinct Property Crimes Court Watch has requested impact statements on 17 property offenders, and received 251 impact statements in return. The case of Gerald Lee Dettman is just one example. Dettman, 39 years old, was a prolific burglar in south Minneapolis. Dettman had 35 police contacts in Minneapolis in the last 10 years, including 11 arrests. He has numerous convictions for receiving stolen property, burglary, tampering with motor vehicles, check forgery, etc. On May 24, 2011 Dettman was arrested again for felony theft and fleeing a police officer. By the time Dettman‘s case came to court, the 3rd Precinct Property Crimes Court Watch had generated over 40 community impact statements, which the county attorney presented to the judge for review. The county attorney insisted that Dettman receive the guideline’s prison sentence for his crime. The court sentenced Dettman to 23 months in prison, the term provided by the guidelines for someone with his criminal history.
Courtwatch needs your participation. For info on how you can get involved contact Tim Hammett at 612-673-2866 or email@example.com.