The Potluck

Homicides in Minneapolis dipped last month, first decline this year

By: and - July 9, 2021 1:55 pm

A Minneapolis Police Department squad car at the scene of a fatal car crash at the intersection of 36th Avenue North and Aldrich Avenue North in Minneapolis on May 1, 2019. Photo by Tony Webster.

The number of homicides in Minneapolis last month dipped slightly below last June, marking the first time homicides have declined below last year’s monthly numbers.

In June 2020  the city recorded 11 homicides. Last month, there were eight, according to the Minneapolis Police Department crime statistics dashboard.

Homicides are still up overall this year from last with a surge in violent crime continuing to beset Minneapolis as city leaders and residents debate the future of policing. So far this year, 45 people have been killed in Minneapolis compared with 33 people by this time in 2020.

The dip in killings could signal waning violence as the state returns to normalcy following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if June is just a blip, the city would be on track for a record-setting year for homicides, on par with the mid-1990s.

There have been three homicides so far in July; if that pace continues the numbers will be comparable to last July, when there were 14 homicides.

Last year, there were 84 homicides in Minneapolis, behind only 1995, as violent crime spiraled in Minneapolis and many other cities as the pandemic took hold, putting people out of work, closing schools and leaving young people with few options to stay out of trouble.

The murder of George Floyd by a former police officer also sparked unrest in Minneapolis and was followed by a wave of officers leaving the department or going on extended medical leave.

University of Minnesota sociologist Michelle Phelps said month-to-month comparisons are difficult to parse because the time frame is so small, but if these trends continue and if homicides go down this year, she suspects the explanation will have a lot to do with the gradual re-opening of all of the “connective tissue” in communities that helps prevent violence — such as schools, community centers, businesses, churches and family gatherings.

The number of rapes also declined from 49 in 2020 to 29 last month — the first drop since February and March.

Aggravated assaults were also down last month, at 334 compared to 354 last June, the first drop since March. Robberies, however, were up in April, May and June after dropping in March. Same goes for car thefts, which were up from April to June after dropping below 2020 numbers in March and April.

Asked to comment on the dip in violent crimes last month, MPD spokesman John Elder said “We are unable to break anyone from homicide free for an interview due to workload.”

Chicago also recorded a drop in homicides last month, for the third month in a row, although they’re still up overall compared to last year.

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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.

Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.