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He said he spoke to three police officers this week about the falloff in stops and all three pointed to the smaller staff. “We don’t have the people, and we don’t have the time,” he said they told him.
The frustration for police, Delmonico said, is that independent stops by a patrolling officer are considered a cornerstone of police work. Investigating a suspicious person or stopping a car that looks out of place can lead to criminals who might otherwise get away, he said.
It’s not unusual for a traffic stop to find someone who’s wanted on a warrant or who’s carrying drugs, he said.
“Is less traffic stops a correlation to crime going up? It could be,” said Delmonico.
Violent crime has risen 4 percent in Minneapolis so far this year. That’s on top of a 4 percent rise in violent crime last year, though police officials quickly point out that crime remains at historic lows when compared to crime rates of the 1990s.
Longfellow Community Council executive director Melanie Majors said residents in her neighborhood have been concerned about the rise in robbery and burglary in south Minneapolis.
A neighborhood meeting earlier this year drew a few dozen locals to hear from top police officials, she said.
“They didn’t say that they were dropping down on these stops or anything but they did say they were concentrating their efforts at Lake and Hiawatha. It actually makes a difference,” she said. “We all know there’s less police but I do think they prioritize based on crime statistics.”
People were told to call 911 if they see something suspicious, and the community council printed up lawn signs that carried the same message.
“People really are starting to pay attention,” she said.
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747