Police have defended their days-long carjacking operation in Minneapolis that included the use of a helicopter after KARE 11 reported it has so far yielded only 5 criminal charges – none of which are for carjacking.
The late January operation in south Minneapolis attracted attention for the disturbance and irritation it was causing local residents, who had to listen to the regular drone of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office helicopter circling overhead.
In the wake of the operation, the Minneapolis Police Department and the HCSO heralded the news that the carjacking crackdown had resulted in "46 arrests and 69 felony-level charges."
But on Wednesday, KARE 11 reported that thus far, only 12 cases have been forwarded to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for possible charges, and only five of those suspects could actually be charged – none of whom will be charged for carjacking.
When asked about this by Bring Me The News, the Minneapolis Police Department issued a short response, saying: "Many of these cases are intertwined and require additional investigation and forensic testing. We expect more cases charged."
The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office gave a more detailed response, in which it appears to acknowledge that the operation has thus far not resulted in any carjacking charges, but argues it was nonetheless a worthwhile exercise.
"Although this operation was primarily focused on crimes associated with carjacking, the areas in which investigators were working had seen an increase in other criminal activity," a spokesman said. "This particular operation yielded a variety of felony-level arrests, including numerous felony warrants, and has resulted in the recovery of illegal firearms from the hands of persons prohibited from possessing such weapons."
"While some of the cases generated from this operation have been presented for consideration of charges by prosecutors, others remain under investigation for possible future charges," he added.
The HCSO also said that proactive investigations remain an "essential strategy in taking violent offenders off of the street."
Minneapolis, St. Paul and numerous other cities across the U.S. are reporting a spike in carjackings amid a wider rise in crime seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ABC News reported that one possible reason for why carjackings have risen is the anonymity provided due to the rise in face mask-use, while a rise in carjackings involving youths nationwide has come as more schools have been operating under distance learning due to the risk of COVID-19.
In Minneapolis alone, it was reported in December that carjackings had risen 537% compared to the year before.