Citywide crime rates declining

Violent crime in Minneapolis is up this year over 2005, but police said overall rates have declined steadily since June.

Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

The Minneapolis Police Department's recently formed juvenile unit and gun recovery and safety initiatives have motivated the decline.

&#8220What we've seen throughout the summer is that crime is trending downward,” said police spokesman Lt. Gregory Reinhardt. &#8220There's no magic bullet. We're utilizing the same people and focusing on what's important.”

One of the areas of focus has been juvenile crime, which has increased 9.18 percent over last year, according to year-to-date police data through early September. The police department resurrected its juvenile unit in May to reverse the trend and more arrests and charges have been made since.

The number of juveniles arrested through September this year has increased 14.85 percent over last year. The number of juvenile cases submitted to the Hennepin County Attorney for charging has increased 17 percent during that time. Submitted robbery cases are up 91 percent and aggravated assault submissions are up 25 percent over 2005.

&#8220Our ultimate goal is not to punish every kid we pick up, but divert them from the adult criminal process,” Reinhardt said.

Police have also picked up more juveniles for curfew violations. In July 2006, 666 juveniles were arrested for violating curfew compared to 172 arrests during July 2005. Arrests continued to be high in August.

Police plan to work with city schools to do proactive truancy sweeps this year, Reinhardt said.

Gun recovery and safety efforts are another factor police attribute to the recent crime decrease. As of September this year, 726 guns had been recovered and entered into evidence, compared to 631 guns by September last year.

A four-day gun recovery program removed 345 unwanted guns from the streets this year and police have issued more than 10,000 gunlocks in 2006 as part of Project ChildSafe.