Reported crime rates surge in U communities

Megan Boldt

Reported incidents of robbery, burglary, aggravated assault and sexual misconduct more than doubled between 1996 and 1998 in University neighborhoods, according to statistics released by the University Police.
The figures, released earlier this month, will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. The statistics are the most recent compilation of criminal data available for neighborhoods around the Twin Cities campus.
Neighborhoods listed in the report include Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park, Cedar-Riverside and the residential area surrounding the St. Paul campus, said Jane Zimmerman, University Police records specialist.
In some cases, the crime rates have increased six-fold: According to the report, the number of sex offenses reported off-campus increased from six in 1996 to 51 in 1998.
The number of reported robberies jumped from 11 to 66 in the same time period. Aggravated assault, burglary and car theft rates have all at least doubled, according to the statistics.
Zimmerman said the rise in reported crimes does not necessarily translate to more criminal activity.
“Neighbors are more observant now,” she said, adding communities have also become more diligent in alerting police to problems in the neighborhood.
Federal law requires the University to report on-campus crime and make the data available to students, staff and faculty members. A provision mandating off-campus crime reporting was passed in 1998.
The number of reported crimes on campus has decreased or remained relatively stable for the past three years compared to the off-campus rates, according to the report.
University Police made 606 alcohol-related arrests in 1998 — a 47 percent increase from 1996. The number of drug-related citations issued by officers increased 38 percent, from 76 to 105 in the same period.
Zimmerman said most of the individuals ticketed for drug- and alcohol-related offenses are not affiliated with the University, however.
Sex offenses reported to University Police also rose from 36 in 1996 to 56 in 1998. That figure also includes reports made to sexual violence advocates, University counselors and residence hall staff members.
Individuals who monitor criminal activity in neighborhoods surrounding the University are not convinced the increase in reporting equals a spike in crime.
Robert Patrick Sr., a Minneapolis police officer who patrols Dinkytown and Stadium Village, said the data contradicts his experience in the area.
From his perspective, the rate of serious crime — including burglary and theft — have declined around campus. The data also contrasts with FBI statistics showing a 16 percent decrease in serious crime in Minneapolis from 1997 to 1998.
“In my opinion, the area has gotten much better in the last couple years,” Patrick said.
Some local residents said they haven’t noticed a dramatic increase in criminal activity in their neighborhoods either.
Virginia Reilly, a Marcy-Holmes resident and University student, serves as a volunteer liaison between Minneapolis police and her neighbors.
“I think this neighborhood does a good job with crime prevention,” she said. “From the recent statistics I have seen, most crimes have either stayed stable or decreased.”

Megan Boldt covers police and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.