It's a familiar and wearying sight for police who work the overnight shift in downtown Minneapolis' Warehouse District: As bars close and unruly crowds emerge, fights erupt.
"Oh, it's crazy," said James Archer, a First Precinct officer named the department's Officer of the Year for 2010.
The idea that helped him win those honors? A better way to handle those crowds. He and another officer devised a booking van program to drive people to jail rather than require street officers to do that themselves.
The van sits in the Warehouse District most nights, waiting for passengers. Street officers who use it then can go back to work answering 911 calls and patrolling.
Two incidents this weekend offered more evidence of the kinds of problems that can erupt in the area around 2 a.m.
Early Sunday, a woman stabbed another woman inside the Karma nightclub, police said, marking the second outbreak of violence in as many nights at the popular club at 315 1st Av. N.
Late Friday night, someone opened fire outside the nightclub, critically injuring a 23-year-old man.
"The Karma nightclub has been a source of continuing problems for the Minneapolis Police Department," police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer said in a news release Saturday, adding that police "will work with other city departments such as Licensing to remedy issues that are continuing with this establishment."
Sunday's stabbing occurred about 2 a.m. after two women got into a fight over a man in the VIP area of the club, police said. The injured woman was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. The other woman was arrested, police said. It's believed she used a broken glass or bottle to stab the victim.
Just 24 hours earlier, crowds were emptying out of downtown bars Saturday when a man opened fire near the intersection of 1st Avenue N. and 3rd Street. Jamaal Dionte Brown, 23, of Minneapolis, was hospitalized.
The gunman got away, but an investigation continues.
Police said Saturday that the downtown area saw a 7 percent drop in violent crime in the past year.
Still, there's plenty of activity to keep officers busy downtown during the overnight shift. Last year, officer Archer transported 1,214 people to jail in the course of 156 work shifts. That's an average of eight per night.