Saturday, June 10, 2006

violent crime in minneapolis

according to david chanen and myron medcalf of the minneapolis strib, the fbi's final 2005 numbers will show a sharp local increase in violent crime. while murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault rose about 2 percent nationwide over 2004, these violent index offenses increased by 35 percent in minneapolis.

it is not uncommon for local homicide numbers to fluctuate dramatically from year to year due to the small numbers involved. a move of this magnitude in a broader index that includes robbery and aggravated assault, however, is much more unusual.

my first instinct is to check for changes in law and reporting procedures. for example, a recent state "strangulation" statute means that a large number of domestic assault cases (hundreds?) once considered misdemeanors are now counted among the aggravated assaults in the violent crime index. i was surpised that neither the writers nor the interim police chief, tim dolan, mentioned this in the article. not surprisingly, chief dolan mentioned the declining number of mpd officers. when i got back to town in the mid-1990s, i believe there were almost 1,000 sworn officers (i know because bridget cleary, an undergrad student, surveyed them), about 200 more than today.

i've personally received many more calls about robberies this year, particularly in more affluent uptown and downtown neighborhoods. yes, the broader twin cities metro area remains quite safe by national standards and minnesota is ranked among the safest states. moreover, like most cities, minneapolis is today far safer than it was a decade ago. nevertheless, if these numbers hold up, it is a shame to see the city lose so much ground in such a short period.

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