Arrests are on the decline again in Minneapolis, with the city on pace to record its lowest arrest rate in 17 years, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Arrests also are down in California, where police in 2015 recorded the lowest number of arrests in nearly 50 years, with about 1.1 million that year compared with 1.5 million in 2006, says the Los Angeles Times. In Minneapolis, the number of arrests fell nearly 9 percent through March 20, compared with the same period last year. If the trend holds true for the full year, it would be the fewest number of arrests since at least 2000.
With a six percent rise in violent crime this year, department are quick to point to increases in arrests for burglary (from 43 in 2016 to 63 this year), auto theft (47 to 67) and aggravated assault (141 to 164). There’s little consensus about what’s causing the drop in arrests. City Council President Barb Johnson has noticed a philosophical shift in the way the city is policed. She suspects the trend is the result of a phenomenon where demoralized cops are reluctant to do their jobs out of fear of facing harsh scrutiny. “Consequences mean something to people and I don’t think that we should take that away,” she said. In Los Angeles, the drop in arrests comes amid a persistent increase in crime, which began in 2014. Police Chief Charlie Beck noted that arrests for the most serious crimes have risen, while the decrease comes largely from narcotics arrests. He said modern policing reflects a different philosophy from the one the department embraced decades ago, when officers would stop, search and arrest thousands of people during weekend raids. “The only thing we cared about was how many arrests we made. I don’t want them to care about that,” Beck said of his officers. “I want them to care about how safe their community is and how healthy it is.”