Are Minneapolis crime statistics evident on the street?by Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis city officials say efforts to reduce violent crime by young people are paying off. Friday, members of a youth violence prevention task force released numbers that show that, except for homicide, violent crime involving teens has dipped sharply over the last two years. But those decreases are not being felt everywhere in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis, Minn. — Mike Kohler finishes up with a client in his small salon, near the intersection of 54th St. and Chicago Ave.
The neighborhood is mostly residential, with businesses at some of the busier corners.
Over the last month, there have been about 9 robberies and robbery attempts within a 1/2-mile radius from here.
Police just arrested a 15-year-old boy they suspect was involved in six armed robberies and victims have described suspects in a few of the other robberies as teenagers.
Kohler has not been robbed, but he has been a crime victim.
He says a month-and-a-half ago, somebody pushed in the window air conditioner in the back of his salon and broke in. They didn't take or break anything.
He suspects this to be the work of either juveniles or really inexperienced criminals.
Kohler says it's the second time in 13 years that his shop has been broken into, but that's not enough to make him feel unsafe.
"No, if it was a continuous thing, then I'd be moving on out," Kohler said. "But, (it's) like anyplace, like my brother who lives out in Burnsville. 15 years ago, he was broken into his house. They cleaned him out good, loaded up his camper truck in the garage and drove away."
Around the corner from Kohler's salon, new business owner Tonya DuRoche and her husband Matt are celebrating the grand opening of their upholstery shop.
DuRoche says she's aware that some of the neighboring businesses have experienced break-ins before. She also suspects that the burglaries are the work of teenagers.
DuRoche says she still feels safe, but she's always cautious.
"I usually carry some sort of item with me in my hands, whether it be a rock or pen with the ink chamber poked out or my cell phone open and with me," DuRoche said. "I'm always looking around wherever I go and I just try to be observant of whoever is in my near surroundings and teach my little daughter the same."
Back in January, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced an effort to crack down on crimes involving young people.
Under the so-called Blueprint to Prevent Youth Violence, police, schools, and a host of social service agencies have combined their resources to attack the root causes of youth violence.
Rybak says the effort is working.
"Two years ago, 46 percent -- almost half the violent crimes in the city of Minneapolis -- were committed by young people," Rybak said. "Today that number is 23 percent, so we have cut that in half. That is great progress."
The report focuses on crimes committed by people ages 10 to 24. That significantly broadens the traditional definition of juvenile offenders.
Misdemeanor assualts by young people are down almost 30 percent from last year; firearm possession offenses are down by nearly nine percent.
But Rybak says there is still one major benchmark the blueprint has yet to pass.
"We have had nine young people murdered this year, compared to eight last year," Rybak said. "That is eight too many, that is nine too many. So we have not reached our goal."
Work on the crime prevention plan is ongoing. Rybak says the committee that directs the efforts, could use more volunteers. Applications are being accepted throughout this month.
- All Things Considered, 10/03/2008, 5:50 p.m.