The Potluck

Minneapolis residents sustained twice as many gunshot wounds as in the four years before the pandemic hit

By: - October 4, 2021 1:38 pm

Photo by Tony Webster/Minnesota Reformer.

So far this year, Minneapolis has recorded more than 500 gunshot wounds — roughly double the four-year average prior to 2020.

That’s according to data delivered to the Minneapolis City Council by police last week.

Violent crime is up compared to pre-pandemic days, property crimes are down, and stolen guns are way, way up. Fatal and nonfatal shootings are also up. 

The data is sure to fuel arguments on both sides of the contentious public safety debate ahead of the November city election, when voters will decide the fate of the mayor and council reelection campaigns, as well as a charter amendment ballot initiative to dismantle the police department and create a new Department of Public Safety instead. 

Property crimes like burglaries and car thefts are likely down because more people are working from home, according to MPD crime analyst Austin Rice.

After three months straight with fewer homicides than 2020, the number of killings went up last month, increasing from four to 10 from September 2020 to September 2021. Rapes also ticked up from 28 to 37, while robberies dropped from 242 to 213, according to the MPD dashboard.

Fatal and nonfatal gunshot wounds were up 43% from Aug. 24 to Sept. 27 compared to last year, and up 26% so far this year compared to last year, according to MPD data given to the council.

Stolen gun reports are up 85% since 2019, with 281 guns reported stolen as of late September, compared to 252 last year and 155 in 2019.

Activations of Shotspotter, which detects gunshots, have been relatively stable since April, but the number of automatic rounds is way up, police say.

Given the contentious debate about the future of the city’s police department, crime data has become the source of its own debate. Despite the overall grim outlook, Council Member Steve Fletcher, for instance, noted that violent crime was still down 13% over the past three months, compared to the same quarter last year. He asked MPD officials if they feel like the city is making progress in addressing the surge in homicides and gun violence that began last year.

“I think what we’re seeing is a leveling off,” MPD Commander Jason Case.

The numbers are still “very elevated,” Case said.

Asked what he thinks is helping, Case said police are focusing more on certain areas — with officers routinely in areas such as downtown — and working more collaboratively with other law enforcement partners.

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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.

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