Violent crime rises slightly

Top Minneapolis leaders said young people were most likely to be victims of violent crime in 2014.

Nick Wicker

Minneapolis authorities are planning to focus on weak points in the city’s safety initiatives in 2015, even after a year marked by the lowest crime rates in three decades.

Despite a presentation on Thursday from Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau that boasted the city’s lowest crime rates in 30 years, officials and community members say more work still needs to be done in high-crime areas.

The two said they plan to focus on improving safety for the city’s youth and in areas like Cedar-Riverside and north Minneapolis, while boosting diversity within the Minneapolis Police Department in the coming year.

Last year’s crime statistics showed that while the city overall had fewer instances of crime, some parts of the city continue to display higher crime rates than others.

“Minneapolis is a safe city, but it is safer for some more than it is for others,” Hodges said.

The Thursday meeting was held at the Hennepin County North Regional Library to emphasize work that needs to be done in north Minneapolis, she said, adding that crimes gravitate toward that area and Cedar-Riverside.

Minneapolis City Councilman Blong Yang also said crime is still a problem in north Minneapolis and that improving the neighborhood should be priority of city officials.

“Making the Northside safer is better for all of Minneapolis,” Yang said.

Sondra Samuels, president and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone and an 18-year resident of north Minneapolis, called the area “ground zero” for crime and violence in the city.

“I have wonderful, wonderful neighbors who want the same thing. They want peace, they want safety, they want this part of the city to be as vibrant as Kenwood or Southwest or anyplace else,” she said.

Violent crime in the city went up by almost 1 percent — and both Harteau and Hodges said that people between the ages of 18 and 24 were the most likely to be victims of such crime.

Arrests among young people went down last year, Harteau said. That the decrease could be attributed a city initiative to reduce youth crime, she said, including the creation of a division focused solely on juvenile crime.

“We know where we have had successes, so we want to build on that,” Harteau said. “One of our major focuses in 2015 is with youth.”

Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson said one of the most troubling aspects of the new data was a rise in “shots fired” calls, measured by a detection system that alerts police to gun shots.

This rise occurred as the number of guns confiscated by police rose from 666 in 2013 to 692 in 2014, 60 percent of which came from north Minneapolis, Yang said.

Community members questioned the lack of officers of color within MPD and how officers interact with Minneapolis residents.

In addition to programs that increase police interactions with residents to improve trust between the community and police officers, Harteau said the department will recruit more minority and female police officers.

“I have been very strategic and focused in diversifying my management team,” Harteau said. “I want not just police, but leaders who have a wider view of the world.”