Minneapolis sees fewer arrests as crime continues to rise

AP Photo/Matt York

The city of Minneapolis was ground zero for all the ugliness that marked the summer of 2020. Riots sprung up everywhere in response to the death of George Floyd, but they were really bad there. What’s more, a lot of other foolishness seemed to get sparked in that city.

In particular, the whole “defund the police” nonsense was internalized amongst the city leaders. At one point, city officials voted to disband their police department.

Needless to say, this probably didn’t signal public support for law enforcement.

Now, arrests are down even as violent crime rises.

Minneapolis police have made fewer arrests in 2021 for most violent crimes and property offenses, a trend that began with the onset of the pandemic.

Arrests for robberies have plummeted by nearly two-thirds this year. Arrests for nonfatal shootings and other aggravated assaults are down by a fifth, while arrests for rape have dropped 70% compared to five-year averages in recent years.

The drop in arrests comes during a year when violent crime has surged in Minneapolis and many other big cities across the country. Meanwhile, the force in Minneapolis has been stretched thin by hundreds of officers taking medical leave or resigning after the killing of George Floyd and civil unrest.

Arrests in homicides have increased by about 50% from last year, though the department did not specify how many of those cleared this year’s more than 90 killings, vs. deaths in previous years.

Asked about the arrest trends at a news conference Thursday, Mayor Jacob Frey said the directive to officers “is always to focus on the most violent and significant crimes first, especially when you have limited resources. You need to focus on crimes where there’s potential for significant injury or loss of life.”

That’s certainly part of it, to be sure.

However, I can’t help but think that part of it is that police have been crapped on in Minneapolis over the last year and change to such a degree that they’re not tripping over themselves to do much of anything they don’t have to.

Yes, murderers need to be arrested. That’s something they figure they can do without causing tons of public outcry. For property crimes? I’m not sure they’d get much support if an arrest went sideways, and if I’m thinking that, there’s reason to think Minneapolis police are thinking that as well.

See, the problem isn’t that there was a cop who crossed the line or even a few that were willing to let it happen. The problem is that every law enforcement officer in the nation was painted with that same brush, but none to the same degree as those in Minneapolis.

At a minimum, that creates a morale problem.

The thing is, though, can we really blame them for not doing more to deal with things like property crime? The city leaders set the stage for this by lashing out at the department as a whole because of the actions of a few. Now, they get to lie in the bed they made.