Survey finds that a growing number of people feel ‘unsafe’ in downtown Minneapolis

Last week I wrote about how Minneapolis was starting to feel the economic cost of the recent riots. I wrote that:

Increased crime, vandalism, and disorder – even just the perception of it – imposes economic costs. If people feel unsafe, they will go elsewhere and they will take their money and jobs with them.

Now, an annual survey adds more weight to this, showing a growing number of people feel ‘unsafe’ in downtown Minneapolis. KSTP reports:

The Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID), part of the Downtown Council, surveyed more than 2,700 people who worked, resided or visited downtown in late fall 2019 and finished the report for its internal staff in February of this year, but it was not released publicly.

Part of the DID survey showed 20% of the respondents placed their top safety priority as security, which is up from 8% in 2018. Eighteen percent said they felt unsafe downtown, which is up from 4% in 2018; and 78% said they felt unsafe at least once in the downtown area. 

Joe Tamburino is an attorney who lives and works in downtown Minneapolis and sits on the DID Safety Advisory Committee.  He told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the survey is “jaw-dropping” and should be, in his opinion, a wake-up call to city leaders not to defund the Minneapolis Police Department.

“This is an important survey, and it shows that people are experiencing crime or being pan-handled aggressively or just harassed,” Tamburino said. “People do not feel safe in downtown, and it is clear we need more police, not fewer officers downtown.”

This isn’t all – or even mostly – down to perceptions. Homicides are spiking in Minneapolis. Downtown businesses which were already facing an unfriendly regulatory environment ad then Covid-19 now have increased crime to cope with. To arrest the decline of downtown Minneapolis, the mayor and city council need to act fast.

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