Brooklyn Park’s Agreement With Security Firm For Violence Interruption Work On Hold
The City of Brooklyn Park has paused its progress toward signing an agreement with a Brooklyn Center-based private security firm to work as violence interrupters, according to Mayor Hollies Winston.
In March, city council agreed to pay Men In Black Security, LLC $650,000 to provide the service through the end of this year. In essence, the firm would replace the work being done in the city by the Minnesota Acts Now since 2021.
“The tools of the past don’t necessarily work with the tools going forward,” said Mayor Winston on Monday. “We knew we needed a 2.0 solution that could provide more infrastructure, more conversation back-and-forth with the police, ways that the police can track that.”
A 2.0 Solution to Violence Intervention
At the March council meeting, Men In Black staff, including Vice President Rashaud Imaun, presented a plan to city leaders about how to approach the task of working with community members to build relationships and, ultimately, try to avoid violence and crime before it can start.
“Building relationships is the biggest part of our role within the community,” said Imaun on Monday. “It’s important, because building that rapport–you’re able to stay ahead of the game, stay ahead of issues when it comes to escalating situations.”
Even though the word “security” is literally in the firm’s name, registered as a limited liability company with the state of Minnesota, Imaun and his colleague Lyneal Carothers insist they’re not running merely a security firm. They say they were upfront with the city about not having a Minnesota license to operate a private security firm. It was denied in 2021 because one of the employees was convicted of having a weapon without a permit at some point.
“This is a route we want to take to give people in the community more power to stand up and take back their communities,” said Carothers. “If there’s a license to stand up and protect your community, then no one wants to do it, but if there is no license to do so, people are going to stand up and protect their communities.”
But, on Monday, Winston confirmed to CCX Media that he has placed the agreement between the city and Men In Black on hold.
“As a city, we did our due diligence, but we didn’t necessarily have information that there is kind of a private information going on from a state board that was involved with this,” said Winston. “We wanted to get as much information, so we pulled back and we have not signed a contract, because now we’re considering all options.” He did not think the purported investigation has anything to do with state licensing, per se.
The operators of Men In Black said Monday they’d heard nothing from city leaders about any change to the agreement.
“We believe that they’re not going to go with our services,” said Carothers.
State Board Says ‘No Active Investigation’
The chairman of the Minnesota Private Detective and Protective Services Board, Attorney Rick Hodsdon, confirmed the board had denied Men In Black’s application for a license in 2021, but told CCX Media that there was no active investigation from his board into the firm currently. Hodsdon pointed out that his board only has the power to investigate if a firm or an individual is in violation of an active license, but since Men In Black has no license, it can’t be in violation. Hodsdon did say his board had received complaints that Men In Black was performing security functions without a license, but his board had no power to investigate further.
Imaun and Carothers said their employees only carry lethal weapons if the client they’re doing business with has requested it.
Winston did not elaborate on the extent of any purported investigation, only that he hoped it would all be resolved soon.
“We want violence interrupters. We also know that we need to have as robust as possible a police department, so we’re working on both in tandem,” he said.
Meanwhile, Men In Black and its 75 total employees await any word on when they can go to work in Brooklyn Park.
“Whatever it is, it’s the 2.0 version that the city wanted, and we presented it, and the city went along with it,” said Imaun. “We’re just ready to get out, and do what we do best.”