Minneapolis Police: 53 percent increase in downtown robberies

A surveillance video captures an assault in downtown Minneapolis.

The rise in robberies in downtown Minneapolis is greater than first reported, according to an update from Minneapolis police following a FOX 9 report.

FOX 9 obtained surveillance videos showing innocent people being beaten, kicked and robbed. Police believe the robbers were targeting people for their cell phones, which they would later trade in for cash. 

Tuesday night Minneapolis Police Department told FOX 9 there was a 46 percent rise in robberies in the first precinct. After a closer look at the numbers from the first of the year to after a group was arrested on August 26, Minneapolis police says that it’s actually over a 53 percent increase in the number of robberies in the first precinct.

Footage of the assaults did not surprise at least one downtown business owner.

“It’s hurtful to watch, but it’s something I’ve seen for years,” said Jay Ettinger, a downtown business owner. “It’s nothing new to me, I’m just glad it’s finally coming to light.”

Ettinger says he’s seen a shift online in attitudes about downtown.

“Every time I go on social media and I see a post about downtown Minneapolis, the next 20 comments are, ‘That’s why I don’t go to downtown Minneapolis,’” said Ettinger.

He is calling on City Council to increase the number of officers, a change which Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has been vocal about. Councilmember Steve Fletcher of Ward 3, which includes downtown, however, says the focus shouldn’t be about hiring new officers, but fixing the contract the city has with the police federation that allows for understaffing. 

“There are eight outreach officers assigned to the fourth precinct,” said Fletcher. “We only have three right now because of retirements and transfers and whatever, and we’re being told they can’t be filled until March. So, they’re projecting forward to that training class. So, that’s something we’ve budgeted for that we’ve authorized that’s not getting filled because of the way the recruiting pipeline is working.”

He says staffing was down in the first precinct for the same reason. When it comes time to vote for the 14 new officers Mayor Jacob Frey has proposed, he says he’s skeptical.

“I think that we probably do need to make some investments in order to solve that staffing curve, and I’m really looking forward to working with the mayor on improving the proposal,” said Fletcher.

A spokesperson for the Police Federation said, “Steve Fletcher’s claims are blatantly false and anyone with even a minor understanding of our labor agreement can articulate why.”

Ettinger is trying to organize crime victims and business owners to rally, protest or possibly sue if necessary to get more police on the force. 

FOX 9 also reached out to councilmembers Jeremiah Ellison of Ward 5 and Phillipe Cunnginham of Ward 4. Neither responded with comment.