Minneapolis 2023: the year in crime

As another dismal year rolls off the board, we can total up the carnage.

Despite all the available data, state attorney general Keith Ellison is taking an end-of-year victory lap on Twitter (X), posting,

In his post, Ellison links to this WCCO piece headlined, “New statistics show that crime is going down in Minneapolis.”

The story and the tweet focus on the fall in carjackings, which have declined as the result of a Federal (not state) crackdown. Completely ignored in the focus on the carjacking subcategory is the surge in regular auto thefts, to an all-time annual record of 7,824, according to the city’s official crime dashboard.

And yes, there does appear to be a reduction in the level of general mayhem in Minneapolis, thanks again to a Federal crackdown on gang activity in the city.

But the touted “9%” reduction in homicides is entirely an artifact of changes to definitions, not an actual 9% reduction in the number or rate of killings.

And the favorable comparisons made are made to the three-year average, which does not get back to the pre-Covid/pre-George Floyd riot days of the previous decade.

Consulting the aptly-named “legacy crime dashboard” and adding data from the new version produces the following results, which I posted on Twitter,

Yes, homicides are “down” from last year and down from the three-year average. But crime is “down” in only the most narrow, myopic sense. The key to manipulating the game is in the ever-shifting definitions. If you remove “justifiable homicides” from the totals, there were 84 murders in 2023 vs. 83 murders in 2022.

December was the worst month for murders in 2023, with 14 recorded.

Under any definition, there seems to have been a permanent increase in mayhem since 2020, which has been accepted by those in charge as the “new normal.”

Last week, the Transit police announced stepped up police patrols on East Lake Street owing to the surge in murders and drug overdoses associated with the local light-rail station.

Also lost in this self-congratulation is the general increase in property crime. Besides auto thefts, the categories of stolen property and vandalism showed significant increases last year. But property crimes don’t “count” because of insurance, or something. Assaults are also up, but this fact is ignored as being counter to the accepted narrative.

With the New Year, hope returns. Fingers crossed for 2024!