Violent crime up slightly in Mpls in 2013

Burglaries, however, decreased by about 3.5 percent

Police Chief Janeé Harteau, surrounded by other Minneapolis Police Department leaders, Mayor Betsy Hodges and City Council members, briefed reporters and members of the community on 2013 crime trends earlier today at the Northeast Library. Credit: Sarah McKenzie

While crime rates in Minneapolis remain at historic lows, violent crime in the city increased by about 4 percent in 2013 compared to 2012.

Burglaries, however, decreased by about 3.5 percent — from 4,767 in 2012 to 4,600 last year, according to a review of crime trends Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau presented at a news conference at the Northeast Library this morning.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s 2nd Precinct, which includes northeast and southeast neighborhoods, led the city in overall crime reduction. The precinct had 79 fewer burglaries in 2013 than in 2012.

Minneapolis Police Lt. Bruce Jensen, who works for the 2nd Precinct, said police focused on community engagement and targeting serial offenders to combat burglaries. When one repeat burglar was apprehended, burglaries went down considerably in the precinct, he said.

North Minneapolis and downtown also saw fewer burglaries last year. Southwest Minneapolis, however, had 67 more burglaries and South Minneapolis neighborhoods had 22 more than in 2012. Harteau, noted, however that the total number of burglaries in southwest Minneapolis still remains relatively low compared to the rest of the city.

Juvenile crime also declined 4.63 percent from 2012.

As for violent crime trends in 2013, the MPD’s 4th Precinct (North side neighborhoods) experienced a 24 percent increase in violent crime — the biggest increase in the city. Violent crime includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Harteau said she’s disappointed by the numbers, but plans to continue the North Side Neighborhoods beat cop program to continue building relationships with businesses and residents.

Robberies increased about 8 percent in the city in 2013. Criminals targeting people with iPhones and iPads continues to be a problem. Harteau urged people to be more cautious about displaying their expensive electronics.

More officers have been assigned to work on fighting the spike in robberies, Harteau said.

When asked about the possibility of hiring new police officers, Harteau turned the microphone over to new Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she’s committed to find money in the city’s budget for new officers. The MPD currently has 812 officers, but Harteau said the ideal number is 850.

Harteau said the department will be focused on dealing with a wave of retirements over the next several years. As retiring officers leave the force, it gives the department a chance to focus on recruiting a more diverse class of new officers to reflect the city’s increasingly diverse population.

The MPD has been using a variety of strategies to recruit young people of color into law enforcement careers.

Harteau said she also plans to create a new youth advisory committee to advise her on public safety issues in the city. The MPD is also launching a new program called Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) to help youth find positive alternatives to joining gangs. 

The department also has a working group studying the feasibility of putting body cameras on police officers.

Hodges and other City Council members have been proponents of police body cameras — a tool they say has shown to reduce instances of police misconduct in other cities.

As part of the 2014 budget, the previous City Council approved spending $400,000 on the body camera program.