Minneapolis homicides down for third month, compared to 2020

Shootings are up 23%, but trending down

By: - September 2, 2021 2:28 pm

Minneapolis Police guard the third precinct on May 27, before it was taken over by rioters. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

The number of Minneapolis homicides dropped below 2020 numbers for the third month in a row. The good news, however, is tempered by a 23% increase in shooting victims so far this year. 

The number of shooting victims is trending downward, with a drop of 10% since late June.

In August 2020, the city recorded 16 homicides, compared to 10 last August, according to the Minneapolis Police Department’s crime statistics dashboard. So far this year, 61 people have been killed in Minneapolis, slightly more than the 59 homicides by this time last year.

Sasha Cotton, head of the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention, said they track crime statistics but are cautious about drawing conclusions. But she said the community is trying to come up with ways to stay safe, and she hopes that’s helping lead to some shifts in the numbers. 

“It really is an all-hands-on-deck approach,” she said. 

Despite the encouraging homicide figures, violent crime has increased markedly since the  pandemic.

Last year, as people emerged from their quarantine cocoons, violent crime began to spiral in Minneapolis and nationwide. Minneapolis recorded 84 homicides last year — behind only the record number suffered in 1995. Although crime trends are notoriously difficult to decipher, experts place much of the blame on the pandemic, which created joblessness, closed schools and left young people with fewer ways to stay out of trouble. 

The murder of George Floyd by former police officer Derek Chauvin also sparked unrest, followed by a wave of police officers leaving the police department.

But as more people got vaccinated and Minneapolis began to reopen, homicide numbers began to improve, beginning in June. The number of homicides dipped from 11 to nine in June and from 14 to eight in July.   

According to a recent city report, homicides are still up 15% so far this year over 2020; robberies are up 11% and aggravated assaults are up about 2%, while rapes are down 17% and domestic aggravated assaults are down 14%. Property crimes such as burglaries and car thefts were down in every category compared to last year.

Jeffrey Butts, the director of the research and evaluation center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has been tracking gun violence and trying to understand the factors behind the 2019-2021 surge.

“I think we are seeing signs that the gun violence fever may have started to break,” he said.


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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.