Minneapolis officials are blaming an increase in violent crime last year on a "small part" of the city's population – offenders who repeatedly commit crimes despite numerous arrests – and are promising to aggressively go after those responsible.
The city's police department released 2016 crime statistics Monday morning. Homicides went down in 2016 compared to the year before, falling from 47 to 38. That figure is still higher than in 2014, when the city saw 32 homicides.
Instances of reported rape, aggravated assault and auto theft went up from 2015 to '16 as well.
Robbery, burglary and arson all fell.
What officials had to say
The year "presented some challenges," Police Chief Janeé Harteau said at a news conference at Sojourner Truth Academy – where a stray bullet came through one day last year. Nobody was hurt.
Overall, violent crime was up in Minneapolis 5.23 percent – that's 229 more incidents in 2016 than 2015. The main reason was aggravated assault, where incidents with five to 12 victims have gone up 680 percent since 2011, Harteau said.
Violent crime is still at historically low levels however, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges noted.
Both though singled out gun violence as a significant problem.
"These shootings are unacceptable. They have no place in any part of our city – not downtown, not on north side, not in Loring Park, not on Phillips, nowhere. I abhor them," Hodges said, before noting the city's efforts to embrace 21st-century policing.
Here's a look at gun violence in 2016:
Harteau said the uptick was "driven by a small part of our population that has no concern for others who work, live and play in Minneapolis." During the news conference, she mentioned shooters opening fire just feet from police officers; and suspects with histories of repeat offenses, arrested again and again.
She also said victims who are uncooperative or "prefer street justice" have hindered investigations, and asked for community help to address gun violence. Hodges also pointed the finger at state and federal governments, who she says haven't enacted solutions to gun violence.
Harteau said the department is working to have a better relationship with residents, saying they need it for "legitimacy," and for people to believe what the department is trying to accomplish "is in everybody's best interest."
"Our goal isn't to make a multitude of arrests. Our goal is that crimes no longer occur," she said.
The police department will get 15 more officers out on the street this year, Harteau and Hodges said, with the mayor adding she hopes to add another 25 officers in the coming years.
But, she said, officers on every corner won't prevent shootings or crime. The officers they're adding are there to do community policing that "builds trust and relationships."
How we're doing in 2017
The city was hit with violence over the first weekend of 2017, when there were two separate shooting incidents around bar close. Five people were shot, one of them was killed. Police were in the immediate area when it happened.
Harteau at the time mentioned the shots were fired “without regard to police presence," and promised an aggressive response.
Through Jan. 16, Minneapolis has seen:
- 3 homicides (compared to 1 at this time last year)
- 24 rapes (17 last year)
- 67 robberies (72 last year)
- 74 aggravated assaults (76 last year
- 13 victims with a gunshot wound (13 last year, too)
- 38 guns recovered and placed into evidence (24 last year)