Minneapolis has suffered a surge in crime that has coincided with a severe shortage of police officers. Undeterred, City Council members want to make further cuts to law enforcement.
Police have registered a 537-percent increase in violent carjackings in the city compared with last November, the local Star Tribune reported. More than 125 such crimes have been recorded over the past two months, with three separate carjackings reported within a one-hour period on Saturday morning. One of the victims, an elderly woman, was struck on the head by her assailants.
“The numbers are staggering,” a Minneapolis police spokesperson told the paper. “It defies all civility and any shred of common human decency.”
Authorities have blamed the crime wave on “small groups of marauding teens,” but acknowledged that adults have also been arrested in connection to the string of carjackings.
The surge in this type of attack has prompted the city’s police force to create a new coding system to help keep track of the criminal acts.
The spree of carjackings isn’t the only public safety crisis facing the city: An analysis by the Star Tribune in September found that violent crimes – including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults – were up 17 percent from the previous five-year average for this period.
More than 500 people have been shot in Minneapolis so far this year, the highest number of gunshot victims in more than a decade. The Minnesota metropolis has also seen 79 homicides since January, a figure approaching the record annual murder count of 97 in 1995, which earned the city the title of “Murderapolis” in the New York Times.
The city has seen a mass exodus of officers since the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police in May, which triggered violent, nationwide protests and campaigns to ‘defund’ law enforcement. Minneapolis has lost 120 officers since the start of the year, with more personnel expected to depart in the coming weeks. In mid-November, the City Council allocated nearly $500,000 to bring in cops from other departments to help until the end of the year.
Despite the crime surge and personnel shortage, a trio of City Council members, including Council President Lisa Bender, have submitted a proposal that would cut the Minneapolis police budget by nearly $8 million.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo have condemned the plan, with Frey describing it as “irresponsible and untenable.”
The proposal calls for more resources to be allocated for alternative forms of policing. Frey said he supports the idea but that cutting the number of police would be disastrous for the city.
“This is literally a life and death matter right now and we need to get it right,” he warned on Monday.
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