Is crime really down?

On June 10, 2024, the FBI released its Quarterly Uniformed Crime Report (UCR) covering January through March 2024. The report compared the 1st quarter of 2024 to the 1st quarter of 2023. On its face, the data offers encouraging news in the form of a 15% drop in violent crime nationally. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland took the opportunity to issue a press release touting the news and crediting in part the “evidence-based community violence intervention initiatives that save lives.”

But is it true, and what does a more comprehensive look at the data show us closer to home?

While any drop in crime is encouraging, and there are signs in many areas of the country that crime is subsiding from its historic surge since 2020, the comparison above represents weak analysis, and the conclusions drawn are not being felt in many areas, particularly those with progressive leadership. 

The FBI report is missing data from 5,549 law enforcement agencies across the country — including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Indianapolis among many others. To be fair, the FBI did account for this and only compared data from agencies which supplied data in both years/quarters, but the fact that nearly 30% of the nation’s law enforcement data isn’t included significantly calls into question any firm conclusions drawn.

Additionally, examination of the data offers sobering violent crime news for some of the nation’s progressive run cities, such as Seattle (up 9%), Denver (up 3%), and our own Minneapolis (up 14%) and St. Paul (up 2%) — all up amid the reported nationwide 15% decrease in violent crime.

These increases encouraged me to do a more substantive examination of how Minneapolis and the city’s 3rd Precinct in particular were “recovering.” I compared data from the first six months (through June 12) of 2019 against the same period in 2024, using the Minneapolis Legacy Crime Dashboard. The data is complete for both time periods and therefore more valuable than the nationwide data reported above. Comparing 2024 to a pre-civil unrest/pre-pandemic year also offers a “norm” with which to more accurately gauge any actual recovery. 

The data is compelling and illustrates what far too many people already know — Minneapolis is not recovering well. They don’t need the data. Many have personal experience with it and are aware of the obvious increase in the randomness of violent crime in recent years.

Anecdotal examples of Minneapolis’s struggles in just the past few days include a shooting and stabbing at one of the city’s homeless encampments, the burial of a police officer murdered while responding to a mass shooting, the carjacking of a woman in broad daylight adjacent to one of the city’s iconic lakes, and the shooting of an 18-year-old on the campus of the University of Minnesota. 

The data is the mortar that cements these anecdotal stories together. What does the data tell us? 

In 2024 violent crime in Minneapolis remains 29% above 2019. Individually aggravated assaults remain up 32%, robberies up 54%, and murder up 114% over “the good ol’ days” of just 5 years earlier.

The lack of recovery in Minneapolis’s 3rd Precinct has been even worse. Violent crime there remains up 36% over 2019, and, individually, aggravated assaults remain up 26%, robberies up 84%, and murders up 200% over 2019. 

These numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise to the residents of the 3rd precinct, who have lived with a burned out and vacant police station for 4 years, a light rail station which sees daily overdoses, a main thoroughfare blighted by vacant businesses and homeless encampments, and an intersection which the city has all but handed over to activists, called George Floyd Square.

Minneapolitans should reject the call to accept the “new normal,” especially when a “2019 normal” is still within reach. The choice is truly theirs.