New Minneapolis crime statistics show that the city got safer overall last year, but the data underscores that the city’s youngest residents are disproportionately affected by violent crime.
“Minneapolis is a safe city, but it is safer for some [residents] than it is for others,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said Thursday at a joint news conference with Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
The number of juvenile suspects in violent crimes is up 3 percent across the city compared to 2013, police said, while arrests of young people in such crimes increased by 5 percent. At the same time, young people are increasingly being targeted in shootings and robberies, police say.
Since 2000, 20,488 victims of violent crimes have been between the ages of 18 and 24, police data show.
The rest of the city has gotten a little safer.
Over the past year, property crimes like burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson decreased 1.3 percent citywide. The city logged 19,240 property crimes last year, down from 19,502 incidents in 2013. Meanwhile, violent crimes — homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — climbed 1 percent to 4,111 for the year, according to end-of-the-year crime statistics released Thursday.
Minneapolis is experiencing close to its lowest crime rates in decades.
“Overall crime is down,” Hodges said. “We haven’t seen numbers like these since 30 years ago.”
The city saw 492 fewer burglaries last year, a 10 percent drop. Police attributed the decline to “a focus on pattern analysis, criminal associations and routines, intelligence, evidence gathering, crime prevention and community awareness.”
Harteau pledged to build on law enforcement successes.
“In 2015, we will continue to grow our successful initiatives and programs while implementing new plans to continue to keep crime low, engage our communities and make our streets safe,” she said.
More alarming for authorities was that shootings have increased, particularly in the violence-scarred neighborhoods of north Minneapolis. The spike in shootings comes as police are getting more guns off the streets. Police seized 692 guns in 2014, up from 666 the previous year, officials said. The majority, 64 percent, were recovered in the Fourth Precinct, which covers most of north Minneapolis.
“I remain concerned by the number of shots fired every week,” said Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson, a North Side resident. “That is a number that is distressing.”
The crime drop provided a measure of relief for Hodges and Harteau, who have spent a good share of the past year trying to build trust among groups of skeptical citizens and as they try to increase racial diversity of the police force.
To address some of those concerns, Harteau pledged to complete a department-wide retraining by the end of the year to root out racial biases on the police force.
The chief also said a new body camera pilot program, aimed at improving accountability from both police officers and citizens, has so far been a success. A department-wide rollout of the program is expected later this year.
“I’m pleased that in 2015, my budget provides for additional officers and more cadet and community service officer classes,” Hodges said. “We will continue to strive to do better so that Minneapolis is a safe city for everyone, all the time, in every neighborhood.”
Any progress would come from increased cooperation between the community and police, said Sondra Samuels, president and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, a group pushing to end poverty in north Minneapolis.
The police department has about 820 rank-and-file officers, officials say, with another 12 recruits expected to complete their academy work in February.
A cadet class of 20 to 30 recruits is expected to be hired in March, while another recruit class of 20 to 30 is expected to come on board in September, officials said.
Despite the drop in crime, residents in some of the most violent and crime-ravaged communities say they don’t feel much change.
“In many cases, the perception is worse than the reality,” said Council Member Blong Yang, who chairs the council’s public safety committee. “Making the North Side safer is a shared sacrifice between all of the residents of our community, the police force, and the city as a whole.”