Photo by Tony Webster/Minnesota Reformer.
Violent crime in the Twin Cities has become a key issue in this year’s Minnesota governor’s race. Just last week, Republican hopeful Scott Jensen released a video calling Gov. Tim Walz “the godfather of the nationwide crime wave.”
In reality the drivers of crime are complex and well beyond the control of any individual politician. And from a strictly political standpoint, using crime as a cudgel is akin to doing the same thing with gas prices or the stock market: it might work while the numbers are getting worse, but what happens when they start getting better?
Last week, for instance, University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Osler pointed out that homicides in Minneapolis are now trending downward. Data from the city shows that as of today there have been 70 homicides recorded in 2022, compared to 85 at this point last year — a decrease of about 18%.
That puts the city roughly on pace to match its 2020 murder rate. To be clear, that’s nothing to crow about, given that 2020’s numbers were also close to a record high. But it’s nevertheless a sign that this year will represent an improvement over last.
Other key measures are down too. Robberies, stolen property and weapon offenses are all down a smidge. Sex offenses are down by close to 10%, gunshot wounds have fallen 11% and calls for shots fired have dropped by 16%. All of those numbers represent a welcome reduction in violent crime.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for bad news in the numbers there’s still plenty to find. Assault, burglary, theft and other property crimes are all higher than last year’s already high numbers. Carjackings and domestic violence are up as well. The city is still living through a period of unusually high crime overall.
But Minneapolis is far from unique in that respect. The past few years have seen a spike in crime across greater Minnesota, as well as in other U.S. cities and states. Whatever’s happening here is happening elsewhere, too. And while it may be politically expedient to try to pin it all on the actions of a single governor, the reality is that the driving forces of crime are far too complicated to fit neatly within simple campaign narratives.
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