Minneapolis crime rate is changing
Depending who you talk to, there is good evidence on both sides for a debate over whether as the summer of 2008 draws to a close, our city can be legitimately tagged “Murderapolis.”
The Minneapolis City Council says in a press release published Sept. 12 that according to the results of the 2008 Minneapolis Resident Survey, 86 percent of Minneapolis residents rate the city as a very good or good place to live. Poll numbers say 84 percent say their neighborhood is a safe place to live and 79 percent say that people in their neighborhoods look out for each other.
“That’s surprising that it’s such a high number,” said Powderhorn community activist Christine Leehey. “I would guess that if the local immigrant population were surveyed they would have a different reaction about violent crime,” Leehey said. Leehey has been a National Night Out organizer and is active with the Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization.
On Aug. 7, a confrontation in Powderhorn Park between local members of Latino street gangs Surenos 13 and Vatos Locos led to a gunshot wound for a 5-month-old baby, according to Minneapolis Police. One person has been arrested for involvement in the shooting, but even though police say they have evidence of the identity of the shooter, he is still at large. Local Latino gang members, like the followers of Vatos Locos 3, have entries on file sharing sights like MySpace where they use stylized “Killa” and “Murderapolis” slogans repetitively to heighten their already sinister reputation.
There was the June 12 slaying of 36-year-old Katricia Daniels and her 10-year-old son during a robbery in her home near 38th Street and 1st Avenue South.
Allegedly the crime was committed by two juveniles who were acquaintances of Daniels’ older son.
On June 11, neighbors called 911 to report shots fired near East 33rd Street and Chicago Avenue. When police arrived they found 29-year-old Ricky Albert Rowan gravely wounded in an alley on the 3500 block between Chicago and Elliot Avenues. Rowan later died of his wounds at HCMC.
One week later, a SpotSpotter activation brought investigators to the 3500 block of 4th Avenue South where a victim was found in the alley with a gunshot wound to his back. The same area of 4th Avenue South saw a 14-year-old shot during an assault that occurred only days earlier.
This summer on the City’s website, Mayor Rybak and Police Chief Dolan reported that crime rates had fallen for the second year in a row, were significantly lower than in 2007, and represented an even more dramatic decline when compared to crime rates in 2006. Statistics published in June said that violent crime had fallen 14 percent compared to 2007, in addition to the 13 percent reduction between last year and 2006. The 18 murders occurring from January through June 2008 are a 31 percent drop from the 26 homicides at this point in 2007 and a 44 percent change from 32 homicides in 2006. Rape, robbery and aggravated assaults had on average seen a 13 percent drop from the same time last year, according to the city’s overall crime statistics. City government gave credit for the decline to “proactive policing, youth violence prevention, and public safety technology.”
“Making Minneapolis a safe place to call home has been and continues to be Mayor Rybak’s top priority,” Rybak’s communication director, Jeremy Hanson, told Southside Pride. “Violent crime in our city is down 25 percent from where it was two years ago, and trending down in every part of the city,” Hanson said.
“This year, Mayor Rybak has proposed to invest $210 million to maintain the public safety gains made in the last two years—more than half the City’s general fund budget. Of this amount, $134 million will go just to the police department—$6.5 million more than last year,” Hanson continued.
According to this year’s resident survey, 87 percent of residents also rated downtown Minneapolis as safe or very safe, which the city says is a ranking much higher than the national average. That number has risen from 2001, when only 81 percent of Minneapolitans surveyed said they felt the downtown area was safe.
But hometown comedian Louie Anderson was recently widely quoted about second thoughts he was having for plans to open a comedy club downtown.
“I don’t think people are going to come down here to a comedy club, you know, when it’s a two stab minimum,” Anderson
“When Mr. Anderson made similar comments a few years ago, Mayor Rybak offered to give him a tour of downtown. The offer was not accepted,” Hanson said.
And yet despite the majority cited in the poll as seeing Minneapolis as a safe place to live, the same survey shows that resident concerns over public safety have risen from 37 to 44 percent between 2001 and 2008.