Minneapolis is caught up in a violent crossfire that has produced a 55 percent jump in homicides over the same time last year, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The victims are overwhelmingly black, young, and male. The weapon of choice has been handguns. The suspects are mostly teenage members of new gangs dealing in a small-time drug trade, police say. Perhaps a more telling number is an increase in aggravated assaults – the shootings and stabbings that number in the hundreds. They have jumped this year – up 24 percent, to 982 from 790 at this time last year.
Last week, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Police Chief William McManus announced strategies aimed at emerging crime patterns, which have been concentrated in a few neighborhoods. Among the plan’s major points are targeting gun seizures, sending probation officers and police to targeted areas on a daily basis, beefing up curfew and traffic enforcement, and working with the courts to keep offenders from returning to the neighborhoods in which they were arrested. The plan also will focus on the demand and sale of illegal drugs and prostitution. The plan was devised by a group of city, community and law enforcement officials led by Chuck Wexler of the Washington, D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum.