The Blog

Return to Murderapolis

Crime is up in Minneapolis, thanks to opposition to racial profiling.

12:00 AM, Jul 18, 2005 • By SCOTT W. JOHNSON
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The results of the Council's study were released in April 2001 and produced an occasion for the Star Tribune to trumpet "racial disparities" in traffic stops, although the report itself was agnostic on the question of "racial profiling." The Star Tribune has observed a strict taboo against an exploration of the connection between "racial disparities" in traffic stops and other law enforcement outcomes and racial disparities in crime rates.

More important than the Star Tribune's superficial coverage of the traffic stop data was the lack of support for the police on the part of both the mayor and the chief. Not surprisingly, Minneapolis police officers reacted accordingly, reducing traffic stops and other discretionary enforcement activity that had helped get gangs off the streets just a few years earlier. Minneapolis has not been the same since.

AS A RESULT of Mayor Sayles Belton's failure to support the officers, the police supported R.T. Rybak, Sayles Belton's opponent in the 2001 mayoral election, despite the fact that Rybak was the more liberal candidate. Rybak, in fact, talked about crime and law enforcement solely in the context of "racial disparities." Rybak never seriously addressed the problem of crime in Minneapolis or the necessity of supporting the CODEFOR policing program. His key supporters were Minneapolis's lakeside liberals, for whom crime is not a problem, and his victory in the mayoral election has had predictable results.

Gangs have returned to Minneapolis in full force. First they returned to the residential neighborhoods north and south of downtown. This year they expanded their territory to the streets of downtown.

WHEN I FIRST WROTE about the return of the gangs in the fall of 2002 in two op-ed columns for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, I received an outpouring of supportive responses from citizens and police officers. I learned that 1,500 arrest warrants on Hennepin County (Minneapolis) perpetrators who had been arrested six or more times in the previous year sat unexecuted. I learned that no special provision had been made to execute warrants issued on confirmed gang members identified as such by the state gang task force. (Thankfully, I am advised that this has changed.) I was advised by a highly knowledgeable law enforcement officer that the police department had been paralyzed by the "racial disparities" crusade, to which municipal authorities not only offered no resistance, but to which they lent support.

Last week I spoke with Lt. Gregory Reinhardt, the immediate past commander of the department's CODEFOR unit. Reinhardt pointed out that the department has experienced a "drastic reduction" in personnel. Since 1998, the Minneapolis Police Department has shrunk by approximately 15 percent; it is budgeted for further shrinkage over the next three years. Noting the decrease in traffic stops over the past five years, Reinhardt observes that traffic stops "lead to lower crime. Guns, drugs and criminals with warrants pulled off the streets as a result of this proactive work . . . [but] you need time and support to do so." The lack of time is a function of the department's decreasing manpower. The lack of support is a function of deficient municipal leadership.

This summer Mayor Rybak contributed memorably to the city's collection of fatuous quotes on the subject of crime when he assured citizens that "Minneapolis is a safe city for those not involved in high-risk lifestyles." High-risk lifestyles--such as sitting at a living room table or riding a city bus.

Scott Johnson is a contributor to the blog Power Line and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.