(The Center Square) – Minneapolis's violent crime is surging while the number of sworn police officers in the state’s largest city, with a population of approximately 425,000 residents, is declining.
Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Chief Medaria Arradondo updated the City Council Tuesday about crime spikes and complaints the police aren’t responding in some areas.
There have been at least 55 homicides this year, already topping last year’s 48 homicides.
Arradondo told the council there have been 400 people shot this year – a five-year high – and 100 officers have left the department to date in 2020, up from an average 40-45 separations per year.
“If we just stayed status quo right now, we will end this year with numbers that are absolutely unconscionable in community violence,” Arradondo said.
There are 438 police officers on patrol and 535 sworn patrol staff, but Arradondo said he reorganized MPD patrols to reduce crime.
A 17-year-old campaign intern for Republican Congressional candidate Lacy Johnson was shot to death Monday in North Minneapolis.
Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said police officers have told residents around 38th and Chicago, where George Floyd was arrested, the location is a “no-go zone” for police response, and is plagued with gun violence, drug dealing and extortion.
“People are having to pay to get out of their own alleys,” Jenkins said.
City Council President Lisa Bender said she's heard from constituents that police officers say they won’t respond to property crimes or enforce laws in certain areas of the city without more resources and officers.
Council member Jamal Osman said business owners reached out to him, saying they shuttered their businesses not because of COVID-19, but because of persistent and emboldened crime such as carjackings and robberies in broad daylight.
Council member Andrew Johnson said carjackings are a major problem when criminals will arrive in a car with stolen or no license plates and leave before officers are dispatched.
“Once they carjack someone, it’s like the movie 'Gone in 60 Seconds,'” Johnson said
The City Council earlier this year tried to completely disband the MPD, an effort that hit a roadblock when the Charter Commission blocked the option for this year.
Council member Phillipe Cunningham said he was disappointed some council members who advocated for dismantling the MPD months ago now want to better fund and hire more police officers.