Brooklyn Park Hires The Village BP for Violence Intervention Services
After Brooklyn Park canceled a contract with a violence interrupter organization in April, the Brooklyn Park City Council awarded a $600,000 violence intervention contract to The Village BP on May 22.
Their contract runs through the end of the year.
The organization was founded by former Huntington Place resident Tekoa Cochran.
“I’ve long contended that the police department can only do so much, it takes a community to make it safe, but it also takes leaders in that community, and Tekoa stepped up and did that,” said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruley.
History of Violence Intervention in Brooklyn Park
Starting in 2021, Brooklyn Park contracted with the nonprofit Minnesota Acts Now, headed by Pastor Harding Smith of the Spiritual Church of God in Robbinsdale, for violence intervention services.
Clad in blaze orange shirts, the organization patrolled high-crime areas of the city.
In March of 2023, the council decided to look for a new intervention service provider and eventually selected Men In Black Security. The Village BP was planning to provide community support services as part of that application.
However, the city stepped back from that contract in April.
“We had learned of a pending state investigation involving Men In Black revolving around their security business,” said Bruley. “Giving us some concern, we hit pause.”
As a stop-gap measure, the city awarded a $50,000 temporary contract to The Village BP to provide services in April and May.
That contract expired on May 21.
The Village BP applied independently of Men in Black to take over Brooklyn Park’s violence intervention services.
Cochran said the organization aims to not only reduce and prevent violence, but also connect residents with resources and address root causes of crime.
She plans to partner with the organization A Mother’s Love, as well as youth mentorship programs and a mental health professional.
According to Bruley, The Village BP has helped to improve conditions at Huntington Place Apartments.
“It’s been actually exceptional,” he said. “If you’ve visited that facility lately, you will hear residents, staff, ownership talk about [how] it feels different and looks different — it’s just a better, safer place to live.”
He said The Village BP has bridged gaps between the community and police department to reduce crime.
“The police have to go back to policing and providing service in the rest of the community,” he said. “But what Tekoa did is provide a cohesive environment where the community was just more resilient and remains today more resilient to criminal activity.”
The council was unanimous in its support for awarding the contract to The Village BP.
Mayor Hollies Winston said that representatives of The Village BP needed to act with the same decorum on the streets as the city’s police officers.
“The reality is with our former violence interrupter, there were a number of deaths that occurred in some difficult areas as well,” he said. “And I would never be crass enough to lay that at that individual’s feet, because it’s not. There’s some issues going on within the community that have to be figured out and worked through.”
Cochran said she reached out to Smith to collaborate but he did not respond.
Council Member Boyd Morson offered support for both The Village BP and the work done by Minnesota Acts Now.
“You all were actually the best part of the [Men in Black] package from last time anyway,” said Council Member XP Lee. “It’s kind of a no-brainer to support you all.”
The decision comes after a 16-year-old was shot and killed outside the Quick African Market earlier this month.