Partnerships keep crime at historically low levels

Today I stood with Police Chief Janeé Harteau and top Minneapolis Police command staff as we released statistics that show that violent crime in 2012 was at the second-lowest level since 1983, and only slightly higher than the recent low of 2011.

In addition, violent and property crime together — called Part I crime — remains at low levels comparable to the mid-1960s.

Now as Chief Harteau said, while these numbers are good, we’re not satisfied with them, because even one crime is too many. We all have to remember that behind these numbers are not just crimes, but victims.

Some of the highlights of the statistics we released today are:

  • The number of violent crimes committed in 2012 was lower than any year since 1983, with the exception of 2011.
    • Violent crime rose 4% citywide in 2012 compared to 2011.
    • The largest decline in violent crime took place in the Fifth Precinct, where it fell 17.7% compared to 2011.
  • Violent and property crime combined (Part I crime) remained flat — rising only 1.3% compared to 2011 — and stayed at levels comparable to the mid-1960s.
  • Burglary, an enforcement priority of the Minneapolis Police Department in 2012, fell 6% citywide compared to 2011.
    • The largest decline in burglary took place in the Second Precinct, where it fell 12% compared to 2011.
    • This decline in burglary in 2012 erases a rise in burglary in 2011 and brings it back to the lower levels of 2009 and 2010.
  • The numbers of youth diverted or arrested for curfew and truancy violations increased 34% in 2012 compared to 2011.
  • The number of guns recovered increased 27.5% in 2012 compared to 2011.

Now it takes a whole city to keep a whole city safe. While there’s not just one thing we do to prevent and fight crime, but rather many things, much of our progress in 2012 in keeping crime at historically low levels is due to effective partnerships between police and community.

And that’s the story of the success in the Fifth Precinct this year, where violent crime fell almost 18%. Strong partnerships with neighbors there — particularly around so-called “hot spots,” where we specially target enforcement, prevention and engagement efforts — led to violent-crime drops of 28% in part of the Whittier neighborhood and 57% in Stevens Square. Representatives of those neighborhoods today praised the “ongoing commitment” and “multiyear partnership” between police and residents.

The story is similar in downtown Minneapolis. In the first part of last year, we were met with an upswing in crime — first from so-called youth “click mobs,” then later from a few problem bars and clubs. We responded with partnerships on multiple fronts: law enforcement, legal and regulatory staff, youth-service organizations, business organizations and others came together to reverse that trend and cut violent crime downtown during the second half of 2012 below levels recorded during the same period in 2011.

To me, the effectiveness of this partnership illustrates that even when we can’t predict or prevent crime, once it hits, we know how to come together to attack it and bring it down.

Preventing and reducing property crime is no less important: that’s why reducing burglaries was a police priority in 2012. The story of how that happened in the Second Precinct, where burglaries fell 12% last year, is similar: smart policing and community partnership. But some neighborhoods are still struggling with burglary, so in 2013, we will expand these effective burglary-reduction tactics to them.

It has indeed been a multiyear process to build a culture of community partnership and service in the Police Department. I’m pleased that Chief Harteau is committed to building on this success and taking it to new levels. As she said today, we are not a drive-through police department. Our response to the people we serve will be not only quick, but thorough and good.

As we look ahead to this year, we will meet the challenges we face with the same kind of collaboration and partnership. We won’t reinvent the wheel, but we’ll build on our success, expand what works and fix what doesn’t.

But whatever our challenges and whatever our success, we must not be satisfied, and must never forget those whom we have lost. Chief Harteau keeps on her desk a picture of 3-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr., who was killed by a stray bullet in his home two Christmases ago. His killer has not been caught, in large part because people who have information about his murder have not come forward. So the culture of partnership must go farther and deeper.

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