‘Defund’ aftermath — The Minneapolis albatross

Activist voices, amplified by easily influenced masses, devastated our public safety and harmed our communities in recent years. While there are signs of a recovery beginning to appear in Minneapolis, there are also signs that recovery will take years.  

On the positive side, support for police has returned.  Several polls support this contention, and most cops will tell you that in the last couple of years the outpouring of support from the silent majority has been significant.

Also significant is Minneapolis’s apparent renewed appreciation for proactive policing as evidenced by “Operation Endeavor.” There have been several proactive law enforcement initiatives recently aimed at increasing police visibility and supporting the use of aggressive pro-active policing techniques. 

It’s both encouraging that Operation Endeavor is being supported and discouraging that it seems lost on so many that the tactics and methods employed are simply good aggressive police work — the very thing so many vilified just a year or two earlier.

Friday evening MPD officers partnered with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and its Violent Offender Task Force, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, the ATF, and the DEA to conduct a focused enforcement detail throughout Minneapolis.  As a result, the group of officers achieved:

• A combined 30 arrests.

• The confiscation of thousands of fentanyl tabs.

• The recovery of several stolen vehicles.

• The seizure of 24 guns.

Photo of some of the firearms and fentanyl seized in Minneapolis this past week – Hennepin County Sheriff

If the prosecutors and the courts hold up their end, we might see the beginning of sustained improvements. Last week’s election of an openly progressive county attorney just might be the biggest impediment we face in this recovery. 

Efforts like Operation Endeavor appear to be having a positive effect. Data from the Minneapolis Crime Dashboard indicates that in the past 28 days robberies, carjackings, shots fired, and homicides are all down significantly over the same period in 2021. 

However, there is a sad truth hiding in this data. While some of the numbers are down this month:

  • Each of these crimes remains up over the three-year average
  • There is an average of 24 cars stolen each day
  • There is an average of 1.4 carjackings each day
  • There is an average of 20 shooting incidents each day
  • There is an average of 1.1 people shot each day

Years after the defund movement began, and mass demonstrations rocked the metro area, the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is still operating with 1 of its 5 police precincts sitting vacant and burnt-out. The MPD is awaiting a decision on not one, but two possible consent decrees which will place it under the oversight of a state and/or federal monitor. The MPD is still down about 300 officers from where it needs to be. The attacks against it have significantly impacted MPD’s ability to recruit quality candidates. This is a problem that will hamstring Minneapolis’s recovery for years.

A few blocks from the burned-out 3rd precinct sits the East Lake St. light rail station. It is one of the worst transit hubs in the state, with open-air drug dealing, assaults, graffiti, trash, and daily overdoses.  A few blocks south is George Floyd Square, formerly a functioning thoroughfare called 38th and Chicago Ave So. The city has acquiesced, and activists have turned it into a semi-autonomous zone, much to the dismay of the people who live and try to run businesses in the area.

These areas are a few miles east of another once-vibrant neighborhood which is seriously struggling. Uptown has been the site of repeated demonstrations, outlaw street racing, and a general decline in public safety. It is no surprise that just in the past couple of weeks, four significant establishments have said “enough” and have announced they are closing — Stella’s, Williams Pub, Amore Uptown, and the Uptown Tavern. These closures come on the heels of several retailers giving up on the area in the past couple of years — Apple Store, Urban Outfitters, CB2, and H&M.

Minneapolis and those who love her have no choice but to continue the fight. The fallout from years of acquiescence to activists has left Minneapolis in a tough spot. Despite the challenges, Minneapolis leadership is at least recognizing the value in strongly supporting and utilizing its police department to regain public safety, and eventually regain the city. 

Let’s hope that support is genuine and sustained.