East Side PD’s FORCE unit books 3 at problem property

Neighborhood complaints spur arrests

Just before 6 p.m. April 19, Eastern District St. Paul police officers stopped by a property on the 600 block of Hawthorne to do what they call a “knock and talk” following complaints from neighbors.

According to a police report, officers strode up to the open front porch of the property, where they found three young men. Police asked them which unit they were coming from, the report states. At this point, one man fled back into the building. An officer followed him, seized him, and discovered he had a concealed firearm with an altered serial number. A second man reportedly fought with officers, and a third had marijuana on him. All three men were booked by police.

The arrests were a result of the department’s FORCE unit, and the help of neighbors, said Sgt. Kevin Casper of the St. Paul Eastern District station. The Eastern District police department’s 10-officer FORCE unit is “pretty much devoted to problem properties,” he said. The unit makes up about 10 percent of the entire Eastern District’s police force, Casper said. FORCE is an acronym for “Focusing Our Resources on Community Empowerment.”

In instances like these, it’s neighbors helping police identify problems. “(Neighbors) point us to the needle in the haystack,” Casper said, explaining that the program depends on residents identifying problems to police.

The FORCE unit commonly does “knock and talks” on such properties. Typically, a problem property is identified after neighbors call to complain. At that point, the department runs a check, and if there have been multiple calls for service in the area, police will then add the address to a list of problem properties.

Casper said that of the 215 active problem properties on the list, 106 of them are on the East Side.

Police encourage area residents to help identify problem properties by calling the FORCE number at 651-266-5712.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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