The recent story on the number of suspicious-vehicle stops made by Minneapolis police on the North Side failed to focus on some important facts (“Downtown, North Side cop stops jump,” Aug. 14). Most notably, our police are increasing enforcement where there’s the highest incidence of violent crime. Seems to make sense, doesn’t it?
The crime data explain it quite well. The North Side’s Fourth Precinct is where 10 of the city’s 23 homicides this year have taken place. Last year, there were 27 homicides in the area — nearly twice as many as the rest of Minneapolis. The North Side is also where 220 of this year’s 637 aggravated assaults (those involving weapons) have occurred.
Just during a recent week, police fielded 46 calls about shootings and gunfire from the North Side’s Fourth Precinct. Compare that with the Fifth Precinct in southwest Minneapolis, where there were just four. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the MPD is doing a high number of suspicious-vehicle stops in that area.
Our police know how to fight violent crime, and a big part of that involves confiscating illegal guns. So far in 2013, 57 percent of all the illegal guns recovered by Minneapolis police were found on the North Side. And the best tactic to get the guns out of the hands of criminals involves letting police stop suspicious vehicles.
I’ll also remind you that the North Side and downtown Minneapolis have more police on the street right now. It’s part of our increased summer patrols. These officers are there for a reason: to make the streets safer. It’s not surprising that we’re seeing more stops where we have more enforcement.
This article also missed the fact that police aren’t alone in wanting these stops. The people who live on the North Side have asked for it. I’ve been at a number of community meetings — and so have police — and residents say they don’t want the gunfire outside their homes. They don’t want assaults and killings in their neighborhoods. Can you blame them?
Reducing violent crime on the North Side is and should be a priority for the city. And when crime decreases, so will our need for police to make so many stops of suspicious vehicles. Until we are at that point, however, tying the hands of our officers would only serve the needs of criminals.
Barb Johnson is president of the Minneapolis City Council and represents the Fourth Ward.