The Potluck

Minneapolis Police Chief: ‘These numbers are sobering, they’re unconscionable’

By: - October 20, 2021 4:04 pm

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo details the city’s preparations for the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Just weeks before Minneapolis voters will decide on the future of the police department and its current leader Medaria Arradondo, the top cop told the City Council that the crime situation is dire. 

So far this year, violent crime is up over both 2019 and 2020, when crime already spiraled as the pandemic shuttered schools and other activities for young people, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer and hundreds of cops retired, quit or took disability leave. 

Arradondo told the City Council Monday he has fewer investigators handling more cases. “So we’ve had to be very diligent and thoughtful in terms of the cases that are triaged.”

Arradondo used 2019 as a baseline. Through Oct. 11, the number of homicides was up 114%; aggravated assaults were up 27%; and gunshot wound victims were up 138%, he said. 

Just two categories out of seven — domestic aggravated assault and rapes — showed decreases. Property crimes like burglaries and car thefts are likely down because more people are working from home, which creates less opportunity for thieves, MPD crime analysts have said.

Violent crime had been on the decline from 2020’s record-breaking numbers, but after three months straight with fewer homicides than 2020, the number of killings went up in September, increasing from four to 10. Rapes also increased from 28 to 37, while robberies dropped from 242 to 213, according to the MPD dashboard.

Arradondo said 87% of victims of violence in Minneapolis are people of color, and eight out of 10 of those are African Americans.

Council Member Jamal Osman called that a failure of leadership: “We are failing this community.”

“What are we doing to save Black people?” he said. “This is a crisis.”

Arradondo agreed, saying, “We’re talking human beings.” He also noted the preponderance of Black victims is largely unchanged in his 30 years in the department. 

“That’s shameful to some degree,” he said. “We are at an inflection point in our city… It absolutely is a crisis.”

In light of the grim statistics, Arradondo said, cutting more from the police budget would be wrong. 

“These numbers are sobering, they’re staggering, they’re unconscionable.”

The chief has been a powerful ally of Mayor Jacob Frey, who is on the ballot in November. Voters will also choose among City Council candidates, as well as a city charter amendment that would restructure public safety. Frey and Arradondo oppose it.

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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.