The thinking goes: More people equals more crime.
With local officials predicting more than 125,000 out-of-town visitors, and more than 1 million people attending Super Bowl related events during the 10-day bash, some feared the influx could lead to more lawlessness.
Not in Minnesota. In the week leading up to the big game, so-called Part I crime was down 17 percent in downtown Minneapolis — which includes the areas around the Convention Center and the Super Bowl Live festivities on Nicollet Mall — compared to the same period last year, city police say.
First Precinct violent crime between Jan. 25 and Feb. 2 dropped to 12 incidents, from 15 in the same span last year, though most of that came with a dramatic drop in robberies, according to recently-released department statistics. At the same time, property crimes fell from 69 to 58. Burglaries and larcenies declined, while auto thefts remained about the same.
Rapes and aggravated assaults, like shootings and stabbings, ticked upward, if only slightly.
Crime data for the rest of the city weren’t immediately available.
Experts say that past Super Bowls haven’t necessarily produced higher crime rates, while cautioning against reading too much into weekly fluctuations in crime data.
More officers on the streets has made downtown safer, according to police spokesman John Elder.
“We have a constant military [presence] everywhere,” Elder said, referring to the game’s massive security operation, headed by Minneapolis police and including state National Guard forces and federal intelligence services “People tend to behave with more supervision.”
Some 3,000 police officers, troopers and deputies from around the state are involved in the operation, in addition to 1,700 federal officials. Another 400 Minnesota National Guard members were deployed at key events around town, and in St. Paul and Bloomington.
The game’s security plan, three years in the making, hit a major snag this week. Officials fired a security firm hired to help guard the Super Bowl Live event, after it was revealed that some of its workers couldn’t pass a federal background check.
Still, they’re taking no chances.
Rifle-toting deputies in Army fatigues and helmets mixed with crowds all week on Nicollet Mall, while officers with bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled skyways and streets, giving downtown a distinctly military feel.
On the other hand, other types of emergencies are up from a year ago.
Paramedics last week responded to 1,708 calls for service, compared to 1,581 in 2017, officials say — a nearly 8 percent increase.
“This could fluctuate either way depending on the weather,” said Mike Trullinger, deputy chief of operations for Hennepin EMS. Metro Mobility isn’t getting around as quick, so people who would normally take that had to resort to calling 911, he said. Hospital transports also rose during that span, he said, from 1,108, to 1,175.
He suspects that plunging temperatures are at least partly to blame for the increase.
“Our flu season had kind of peaked,” said Trullinger. “But, now you’re getting an influx of people from other states, with their own special germs coming in.”
Fire officials said anecdotally they have received about the same number calls for help as they did during this time last year.