Park Police: Overall crime down in Minneapolis park system

Park Police: Overall crime down in Minneapolis park system

Park Police: Overall crime down in Minneapolis park system

Through the first two weeks of September, compared to the same time period a year ago, violent crime has stayed about the same in the Minneapolis Park and Recreation system, but property crimes are down about 20%, according to Minneapolis Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto.

Ohotto presented the latest crime statistics to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioners on Sept. 6.

Ohotto told commissioners that stepping up patrols and targeting hot spots in certain parks were a big reason for the overall decline in crime throughout the park system. He encouraged citizens to continue their vigilance, which assists Park Police in doing their jobs.

“We would love for neighborhoods to step up and provide that sort of community watchful eye on our public spaces,” said Ohotto.

So far this year, there have been 72 violent crimes — such as homicides, assaults and rape — committed in city parks compared to 69 at this same time in 2022. And property crimes such as auto thefts, car break-ins and burglaries stood at 263 last year, and there have only been 205 this year.

Park Board Commissioner Elizabeth Shaffer praised Park Police for their efforts in reversing the trend of rising crime.

“We take safety seriously here as commissioners. But, it has to be a team. No one person can do it by themselves,” said Shaffer. “Thank you for your efforts. Everyone’s efforts that have contributed to this work you’ve presented.”

Ohotto said most of the property crimes are being committed in four regional parks. Those include Minnehaha Park, Theodore Wirth Park, Lake Nokomis and Bde Maka Ska. And Ohotto says The Commons in downtown Minneapolis is getting extra patrols because park employees do not feel safe when they attempt to clean it up each morning.

“They are met with people sleeping around a tremendous amount of garbage who are extremely hostile toward staff,” Ohotto said. “They will not clean that park right now without a police escort.”