A record number of homicides were reported in Minnesota for the second year in a row as violent crime increased, a trend that was observed nationwide and that coincided with the coronavirus pandemic’s negative effects on the economy and society.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension recorded 201 murders in its 2021 uniform crime report, an increase of 8.5% annually and a rise of 21.6% in violent crime. When Minnesota recorded 185 murders in 2020, a 58% increase from the 117 registered in 2019, the previous murder record was established. Alongside the spike in homicides that year, violent crime increased by 17%.
Before 2020, Minneapolis had a sharp increase in gang-related violence during the crack cocaine epidemic, which was accompanied by a high number of killings. The Department of Public Safety reports that there were 183 murders that year. Since the mid-1990s, Minnesota’s population has increased by 1.1 million.
In 2021, violent crime increased substantially more in the Twin Cities metro region than it did in all of Minnesota. Compared to the rest of the state, which witnessed a rise of 16%, violent crime increased by 23.9% in the seven-county metro area. In 2021, St. Paul experienced a record 38 homicides, and Minneapolis reported a close to record 96. In the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s yearly crime report, the “murder” figure includes both murder and other deliberate kills. Murder is classified as a special offense in the criminal justice system that is different from other killings.
Early in 2021, there was a spate of carjackings in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well, which soon began to extend to the suburbs. The state has now monitored carjackings for the first time in a criminal report. The DPS recorded 779 carjackings statewide at year’s end. More over 600 incidents occurred in Minneapolis, compared to less than 10 outside the Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties metro area in greater Minnesota.
Despite the fact that carjackings have not previously been recognized by Minnesota law enforcement as a distinct crime, 14,829 automobiles were taken in 2021, the largest number in 20 years and an 8.5% rise from the previous year.
Authorities at the federal and state levels have already stated that they will devote more funds to reducing violent crime and disorder in the metropolitan region. In April, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said that he was refocusing federal prosecutors in Minnesota on combating violent crime, particularly carjackings.
To help metro-area municipalities combat the rise in crime, Governor Tim Walz has already redirected state law enforcement resources, including state troopers and a dozen BCA investigators. The governor, however, noted that strategy could only be employed for a limited time and that Republican lawmakers would need to take action to support ongoing efforts.
In Minnesota, crime has emerged as a key issue in the next race, and Republicans have been eager to pin the blame for the increase in crime on Walz, a Democrat.
In a statement, the executive director of the Minnesota Republican Party, Mike Lonergan, suggested that the Public Safety Department released the report just before the weekend in an effort to bury the news. “While Walz may try to hide his disastrous record with a Friday news dump, Republicans won’t let him get away with it,” Lonergan said. Minnesota deserves better, and we are excited to appoint Tim Walz as governor for a single term in November.
Minnesota Republicans have argued that Democrats are anti-law enforcement as part of their campaign approach, and they have supported measures like tougher punishments for repeat offenders and increased financing for law enforcement organizations. At a press conference held on Thursday in downtown Minneapolis, Walz also suggested increasing spending for police enforcement and urged Republican lawmakers to resume public safety negotiations.
This year’s regular legislative session came to a conclusion without lawmakers reaching a consensus on how to spend the state’s unprecedented $9.3 billion surplus, which could go toward funding law enforcement and neighborhood crime prevention initiatives. The Republican-controlled Senate, Democratic-Farmer-Labor-controlled House, and Walz were unable to reach an agreement on a special session in June.