How Minneapolis city leaders tackled crime in 1995, a year dubbed 'Murderapolis'

Jay Kolls
Updated: December 07, 2020 04:48 AM
Created: December 03, 2020 08:04 PM

In 1995, Minneapolis faced a record 97 homicides. City leaders from the late 1990s told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it was a time of great concern and uncertainty but, in their opinions, not as bad as the widespread crime happening now in the city.

Former Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes told KSTP it was a "frightening" time, but said it was not as random as the violence in 2020 and the city had a unified, coordinated plan led by former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton.

"Mayor Sayles Belton really worked to get everyone in the city, and the county, on the same page and with a comprehensive plan," said Cherryhomes. "Right now, the city does not seem to be unified and the divisions are very deep over how public safety should look."

Cherryhomes said part of that comprehensive plan included hiring more police officers and a very strategic approach toward targeting major gangs, which were responsible for the bulk of the violent crimes that led to the record number of homicides.

"You know, when the The New York Times referred to us as 'Murderapolis,' that was hard for those of us who grew up here," said Cherryhomes. "But, we made sure we unified the city with a plan, even if some did not agree with that plan, and then we carried through with it."

Greg Hestness was a deputy chief with the Minneapolis Police Department in 1995 and he was part of the team that implemented portions of the city's plan to curb the violence.

"We were pretty surgical in how we went after the major gangs and we were determined to get the violent members off the streets," said Hestness. "We did put a lot of people in jail and we did break up major gangs which were the major sources of the problems."

As of Thursday night, the city has seen 78 homicides in 2020. For a more detailed look at crime in Minneapolis this year and years prior, click here.

The Minneapolis City Council votes on a final 2021 budget on Dec. 9 and it includes the possibility of about $22 million in cuts to the police department.


More from KSTP: 

Minneapolis city councilmembers propose 'Safety for All' budget plan to revamp city's public safety system


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