Minneapolis needs more cops

Violent crime is exploding in Minneapolis this year.

Data from the City of Minneapolis shows that there were 47 homicides in the city between January 1 and July 15 this year. As Figure 1 shows, this is more than double the average over the same period for the ten years from 2010 to 2019.

Figure 1: Homicides in Minneapolis, January 1 to July 15

Source: City of Minneapolis

It isn’t just homicides. In June, NPR News reported that:

In Minneapolis, for example, there were 405 carjackings last year, more than triple the number in 2019.

More cops, less crime. Fewer cops…

Sadly, this isn’t surprising. Last June research suggested that Minneapolis was in for a rise in violence. In September last year, American Experiment wrote that research shows that more cops means less crime: “If more cops means less crime, what does fewer cops mean?” we asked. “Faced with rising violence in the Twin Cities, we need more cops, not less.”

Tragically, fewer cops is what we’re getting. Last week, KSTP reported that:

The Minneapolis Police Department’s staffing troubles are stretching patrols thin throughout the city, according to the head of the union representing the department.

Minneapolis Police Federation President Sgt. Sherral Schmidt told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that “all five police precincts are staffed low right now.”

“I looked at the last 28-day schedule from every precinct and all of them are running below their minimum levels several days a month,” Schmidt said.

In the Fourth Precinct, on the city’s north side, Schmidt told KSTP staffing has been particularly tough. Each 10-hour shift has a 10-officer minimum staffing recommendation, but the middle watch from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. has been probably the biggest challenge.

“In the Fourth Precinct, we fell below the 10-officer-per-shift minimum staffing on 23 of the last 28 scheduled days,” Schmidt said. “And on one particular day in July, there were only four officers scheduled for the middle watch shift, which is kind of shocking.”

Schmidt said when there is a serious incident, like a shooting, MPD has to juggle things and bring in officers from other precincts, but that leaves those precincts in a bit of a bind to keep up with 911 calls.

“The supervisors at that precinct or at that scene would call or request other cars from other precincts to come over and help handle the 911 calls that keep coming in,” Schmidt said. “But that then leaves the other precincts short because, like I said, most of our shifts are running short.”

KSTP also reports on a Hennepin County judge’s recent ruling in a case brought by eight residents of Minneapolis’ Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods that the city’s police staffing level is in violation of its city charter, which sets a per-capita formulation for a minimum number of sworn officers: right now the city has 669 active officers, 61 short of the minimum staffing requirement.

Hopefully, help should soon be on the way in the form of more police officers. A heavy price has been paid to get there, though.

To show your support for Minnesota law enforcement officers, sign the petition at SupportMNPolice.com. Our safety depends on it!

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.