Minneapolis gets state, federal help as violent crime surges

Minneapolis is relying on outside help to deal with a surge in violent crime because the city's police department is so short-staffed and crime has risen so quickly.

Mayor Jacob Frey acknowledged Sunday that Minneapolis Police can't handle the situation alone. The city is getting support from the Minnesota State Patrol, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and federal investigators, he said.

"Safety has to be a priority within the city. Given some of the attrition that we've seen over the last year, these resources are going to be really, really critical," Frey said.

More than 200 officers, nearly one-third of the force have left Minneapolis Police in the year since George Floyd's murder. The wave of departures came as the City Council debated a major restructuring of the police department.

Frey has proposed new spending to replace the officers who have left, but several council members oppose the plan.

This weekend, shootings left another four people dead. A mass shooting outside Monarch nightclub downtown left two people dead, including a University of St. Thomas student who was set to graduate hours later but was caught in the crossfire. Eight others were injured.

Homicides and nonfatal shooting victims have more than doubled in 2021 from a year earlier, according to police data provided to council members last week. Carjackings have tripled.

The night after the Warehouse District shooting, the State Patrol provided additional support on freeways in Minneapolis, a spokesman said.

But Gov. Tim Walz has said he opposes sending state troopers onto "every corner and street" of Minneapolis because the troopers have responsibilities statewide. 

Monday, during an appearance on KMOJ Radio, the governor did not outline additional ways his administration would coordinate with local officials to curb violence in the state's largest city. Instead, he connected the need for safe streets to the ongoing legislative effort for additional restrictions on police.

"We can hold two competing thoughts," Walz said. "While we're looking for reforms around police, we need security in our neighborhoods."

The city was already reeling from the shootings of three children under the age of 11 over the past three weeks. One of the victims, a 6-year-old girl, later died. Police have not announced any arrests.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar was asked if her congressional district has a gun problem.

"I do think we have a gun problem in this country," Omar told reporters. "We are talking about gun violence overall being a pandemic and a public health crisis in our country and that needs to be addressed."