Police: Minneapolis averaging more than a carjacking per day in 2021

Minneapolis homicides, shootings and carjackings have all soared in 2021, Minneapolis Police said Thursday as City Council members splinter over how to respond.

The city has seen a 222 percent increase in carjackings this year compared with this point in 2020, averaging 1.27 incidents per day, according to police data. Homicides are up 108 percent from a year earlier, while shootings have risen 153 percent.

The surge in violent crime comes as Minneapolis Police lost more than 200 officers over the past year since the police killing of George Floyd and the riots that followed. The agency is now asking outside departments for help investigating gun crimes, Commander Jason Case said.

"We're intensifying our resources to focus on gun investigations, on those people we know have a high propensity to use guns for violence," Case told the City Council's Public Safety committee. "The chief has made a plea to other agencies to help us in that, given our staffing situation."

Earlier this week, Gov. Tim Walz said he would not permanently station Minnesota State Patrol troopers on city streets. Troopers have been deployed to the city repeatedly over the past year, most recently during Derek Chauvin's murder trial.

Walz declined to say if Mayor Jacob Frey had asked his administration for specific assistance in dealing with violent crime.

Case blamed a 22 percent drop in the number of gun recoveries in part on MPD's staffing situation.

The city has experienced a 130 percent increase in the number of guns stolen from vehicles, he said.

"Before the losses were cell phones and wallets and cash or laptops. Now it's becoming guns," Case said. "That's adding to it, a new variable we haven't seen before."

The violence reached a new level this month with the shootings of three children, including the death of a 6-year-old girl this week.

Frey and council members are divided over what to do next. This week, Frey released a four-point plan that included additional funding for police and some new restrictions on police tactics, including traffic stops for minor equipment violations.

Several council members immediately opposed the mayor's plan, leaving its fate uncertain at City Hall.

At Thursday's meeting, Council Member Cam Gordon questioned how the guns are getting into the wrong hands.

"It seems to me if we could stop the flow of guns into our city, that would also have repercussions on ShotSpotter (reports on gunfire) and all of the crimes committed with guns," he said.

Josh Peterson, a manager at the city's Office of Violence Prevention, told council members about his office's community-based work to head off violence.

A program called Next Step engages with victims of violence at three hospitals in so-called "bedside interventions" and then provides follow-up services after they're discharged from care. Groups of Violence Interrupters work on a neighborhood level to provide informal dispute resolution.

Office of Violence Prevention staff are working with the families of the young shooting victims, Peterson said.

"This shooting and this level of violence really isn't acceptable, and it has to stop," he told council members.