Violent crimes up 16% in Minnesota last year; murders reached record high, BCA report says |

Violent crimes up 16% in Minnesota last year; murders reached record high, BCA report says

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: July 27, 2021 10:58 PM
Created: July 27, 2021 03:59 PM

Violence in Minnesota increased almost across the board last year, according to the 2020 crime report released by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Tuesday.

The report states the number of violent crimes increased 16.6% in 2020 from the prior year and murders reached a record high at 185, which is up 58.1% from 2019 and tops the state's previous record in 1995 by two. The BCA added that 75% of last year's murders were committed with a firearm, also an increase from 69% in 2019.

Below are some other notes from the report:

  • Bias crimes jumped to 223 incidents, the highest number in 15 years. Of those, 41% were motivated by anti-Black or African American bias.
  • Vehicle thefts rose 19.7% to 13,662 thefts, the highest number since 2005.
  • Instances of officers being assaulted in the line of duty increased by 62%, which is more than any other year on record, to 667 incidents.
  • Thirty-one officer-involved shootings were recorded, a large increase from just six in 2019. Those were split almost evenly between the Twin Cities metro and Greater Minnesota.
  • The number of arsons rose sharply to 710, an increase of 53.7%.
  • The value of property that was stolen topped $216 million, a 54.5% increase over 2019.

The only decreases in violent crimes last year were in the number of rapes — which fell about 9% to 2,222 — and human trafficking-commercial sex acts — which dropped to 81 compared to 128 in 2019. There were also no law enforcement fatalities last year, according to the report.

Additionally, the report noted 45 use-of-force incidents involving Minnesota agencies last year:

  • Sixteen non-injury incidents.
  • Nine incidents resulting in a person's death.
  • Nine incidents resulting in serious injury.
  • Eight incidents resulting in a person being unconscious.
  • Five gunshot injury incidents.

The report also listed the following race information for use-of-force incidents:

  • White — 21
  • Black — 14
  • Unknown — five
  • American Indian — three
  • Asian — three

To address this spike in violence, communities have started to get creative with how they’re approaching the issue. 

From connecting young men and women with employment to being on the streets to disrupt violence, We Push for Peace has been an organization helping with that. Members of the Minneapolis nonprofit hosted two DFL representatives on Tuesday to share their work and talk about how the two entities can best work together. 

“This is how [you’re going to] know what organizations are doing what they actually say they're doing,” said Trahern Pollard, founder and CEO of We Push for Peace. 

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, was joined by Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, for the meeting. 

“I felt like we need to get to know who's actually doing the work, and that's why we started this outreach,” Winkler said. “That's how we build relationships and the confidence and say, ‘Yeah, if we put money towards this group, good things are going to happen from that,’” he added. 

Part of the discussion was about $800,000 recently made available from the state’s budget for organizations like Pollard’s. A sticking point was about how and who would decide who gets part of that money. Winkler said while the details are still getting finalized, state leaders are leaning towards setting up a committee of community members to make those decisions. 

We Push for Peace liked that idea but mentioned the importance of those sitting on the committee to reflect the communities the money would benefit. 

Public safety was a sticking point for legislators this last session, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed their desire to work toward curbing the state’s spike in violence. 

“We have to start holding those who commit these crimes accountable,” Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, said about the BCA’s report. 

On top of supporting programs that interact directly with those in the community to slow down crime, Johnson said law enforcement still needs to remain a focus. 

“To start you have to have enough officers to respond to the emergency calls, [and all other] calls,” Johnson said.

“You also have to give the time to stop and talk with those in the community [to build] those community relations with the officers,” he added.

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