Robbery Increase A “Puzzler” For Minneapolis


Reported serious crimes in Minneapolis declined for the third straight year, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. 2003 will end with a 7 percent decrease, a decline of about 1,800 — in large part because of 2,000 fewer thefts.

What troubles outgoing Police Chief Robert Olson, is a sharp rise in one of the most violent crimes. Robberies, often fueled by people needing money for drugs, rose 21 percent. Some community leaders praised the downward trend but said the data don’t reflect what’s happening on the street. Olson agreed, saying the city needs progressive strategies to keep crime in check because criminals will find new ways to victimize residents.

One expert, Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University, said Minneapolis should be happy with the overall drop in serious crime. He believes this fits a pattern he expects to see in other cities. After several years of relatively flat figures, including a 1 percent decrease in Minneapolis last year, the country will experience significant fluctuations in crime, he predicts. That’s because of influences such as fewer jobs for high school graduates, diversion of police officers for terrorism activities, shortfalls in state funding, and reduction of social services, Blumstein said. Minneapolis should anticipate a crime increase in 2004, he said.

Whatever the new year’s crime fighting plan might be, Olson won’t be involved. Pending City Council approval Jan. 16, he will be replaced by Bill McManus, chief in Dayton, Ohio.

Olson expects that McManus won’t scrap the department’s CODEFOR system, which uses computer analysis to track crime patterns. Since it was implemented in 1998, serious reported crime in Minneapolis has dropped 40 percent, he said.

Olson said the wave of robberies is “a puzzler for us.” Police recently arrested eight men and teenage boys in connection with possibly more than 100 robberies in south Minneapolis since April. Still, the 2,175 reported robberies this year were far below the 3,375 reported in 1997.


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