Making Duluth safer: City leaders update community on public safety initiatives

Duluth Community Outreach Worker
Duluth Community Outreach Worker(KBJR)
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 7:53 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - Duluth city leaders met with community members today to talk about public safety initiatives within the city.

Mayor Emily Larson, Police Chief Mike Tusken, and Greater Downtown Council (GDC) President Kristi Stokes all spoke about what their organizations are doing to help the community.

Tusken shared how the police department is expanding social outreach programs downtown to combat issues like the opioid crisis and people struggling with their mental health.

He said the department wants to avoid using jail as “a fix” for people with real mental illnesses and addictions.

Stokes introduced a new downtown outreach worker within the city, Renee Graves.

“We’re seeing more quality of life issues and so one of the things that we have taken a step forward to do is to embed an outreach worker within our Clean and Safe Team,” said Stokes.

Graves works hand-in-hand with the Clean and Safe Team to locate people downtown in need of assistance.

Her job is to develop long-term relationships with those people and provide them access to resources and help if they want it.

“That gets to be my job, just finding the people who need those services, but also need help navigating the processes and getting there,” said Graves.

Graves said she’s a huge extrovert and genuinely enjoys talking with people.

“Having a job where I get to just be out in the community introducing myself is a joy to me,” she said.

She said she enjoys empathizing with people and helping them feel seen.

“It is such an honor to be able to offer that to another person, to just offer them validation, that they matter, that they’re seen, that they’re cared about,” she said.

Graves works in Duluth’s downtown area and Canal Park, but since she works alone, she’s unable to attend to other areas, like the Hillside neighborhoods and Lincoln Park.

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