The total number of violent offenses and property crimes in Minneapolis dropped by about 1 percent in 2014, according to an update from the Minneapolis Police Department.
There were 23,351 violent crimes and property crimes (known as Part 1 crimes) in 2014 compared to 23,574 in 2013 — a level of crime near 30-year lows.
When looking at the violent crime rate alone, it ticked up slightly (0.96 percent) compared to 2013. In the Journals’ coverage area, the violent crime rate increased 4 percent in the 1st Precinct (Downtown), dropped 2 percent in the 2nd Precinct (Northeast and Southeast), and dropped 12 percent in the 5th Precinct (Southwest).
The violent crime category includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Robberies and aggravated assaults are up slightly, but the number of homicides dropped by 11.11 percent. There were 32 homicides in 2014, down from 36 in 2013.
Burglaries are also down 10 percent citywide with a significant drop in the 4th Precinct (North Side). Overall, there were 492 fewer burglaries in 2014 compared to the year before, including 326 fewer in North Minneapolis and 51 fewer in Southwest.
“The reason these numbers are so good are because of the fine officers in the Minneapolis Police Department,” said Mayor Betsy Hodges at a press conference Thursday at North Regional Library in North Minneapolis. “We asked a lot of them in 2014 and they came through in shining colors.”
Hodges emphasized that Minneapolis is a safe city, but added there are disparities when it comes to crime rates.
Violent crime remains a challenge in North Minneapolis and parts of South Minneapolis, in particular. Police recovered 692 guns from the streets in 2014 — 64 percent were from North Minneapolis.
The MPD has expanded ShotSpotter coverage in North Minneapolis — a gunfire detection system that helps police respond more quickly to shots fired calls. Investigators are also going to door to door to talk to residents to gather information after a shots-fired call to make sure residents know it’s a top priority for police, said Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
Harteau said the drop in crime comes as the department has faced reduced staff levels because of retirements and an increase in calls for service.
“I got to tell you I was shocked when I got the numbers,” she said.
The number of sworn officers is at 816 with additional recruit classes scheduled to join the force throughout the year, she said. The department remains focused on recruiting a diverse mix of officers reflective of the city’s neighborhoods.
“I am proud of the members of this department for their tireless efforts in crime fighting while removing barriers and finding new ways to get out of their cars and connect with residents,” Harteau said.
Sondra Samuels, president and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, an organization focused on closing the achievement gap in North Minneapolis, said she’s optimistic about the progress police have made in reducing crime.
When Samuels’ family moved to North Minneapolis 18 years ago, they were greeted with a bullet through a window, she said.
“When I moved into this community I wondered if police even cared about us in North Minneapolis,” she said at the MPD’s press conference at the North Regional Library. “I wondered if they cared when a shot rang out or when a child died.”
She said while challenges remain, conditions in her neighborhood have improved and she and her neighbors remain committed to making the North Side as safe and vibrant as other areas in the city.
“I am hopeful and think we all should be,” she said. “We need to suspend the criticism for a minute and say, ‘halleluiah and thank you.’”