The Minnesota Bureau of Crime and Apprehension (BCA) recently released its 2022 crime report. Headlines point to a small decrease in violent crime compared to 2021, but not by much. When you remove the civil unrest in 2020, crime today remains significantly higher than it was pre-pandemic. Since 2018, aggravated assault has surged by 55%, car theft by 66%, and murders by 75%.
Auto thefts this year are on track to be another record high. At the time of this writing, there are already 5,970 car thefts reported so far this year in Minneapolis alone. That’s almost one car theft taking place every hour, every day. We are already close to surpassing last year’s record of 6,138 car thefts, and we still have three months to go. It’s a shocking figure that should make every Minnesotan question the state of public safety in our cities. Equally troubling is the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) losing more officers than it can hire.
Earlier this month, Minneapolis DFL Vice Chairwoman Shivanthi Sathanandan, who in 2020 said “We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” found herself on the receiving end of violence. She reported a brutal assault by four young assailants in broad daylight at her home. They not only stole her car, but left her bloodied, battered, and terrified in front of her children.
Ms. Sathanandan’s story is a tragic reflection of a persisting crisis in our state — a crisis born out of failing policies that have allowed crime to flourish unchecked. It is not just an alarming statistic; it is a stark and painful reality.
Our hearts go out to Ms. Sathanandan and her family, but they are far from alone in their suffering. Over the past three years, thousands of Minnesotans across the Twin Cities have fallen victim to similar crimes, if not worse. Tens of thousands have endured brutal attacks, feeling forgotten while their leaders shamed them into believing crime wasn’t a problem, and treated public safety as an optional concern rather than a fundamental right.
These voices have long cried for help, only to be met with continued demonization and demoralization of our law enforcement officers, and policies that fail to keep repeat criminals off the streets. It’s a disheartening reality that has eroded the very fabric of trust, safety, and security in our communities.
While Minnesota policymakers may have turned a blind to this reality, the rest of the nation has noticed. A recent Gallup poll revealed that Americans think Minneapolis is less safe than it used to be. And they would be right. Minnesotans feel it, too. Recently, KSTP ran a story of a family who moved to Minneapolis from California only to witness two street shootings outside their home within days of their arrival. The tragedy left one man dead, with several cars and apartments riddled with bullets. Safety, for them, shattered like the glass from the gunfire. They are now moving out, not to start a new life, but in fear of losing the ones they have.
Let’s be clear. Assault is illegal. Carjacking is illegal. When people call for “tougher crime laws,” what they mean is our laws need to be enforced. We need the individuals committing these violent crimes to stay behind bars, not sent through the front door free to commit another. Minnesotans want the fear of consequences that lawmakers dismantled instilled back into our streets.
Having served 35 years in law enforcement, it is especially troubling that the predominant age group involved in these carjackings and acts of lawlessness are between the ages of 12 and 19. This should shake every Minnesotan at their core. Carjackings have skyrocketed across the Twin Cities for over three years, and an overwhelming majority of them are perpetrated by children.
How is our current leadership allowing this to happen? Why is crime being allowed to thrive? One would hope that Gov. Tim Walz, with his background as a former teacher and service member, would prioritize the safety and protection of our children and communities. Yet, children are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law instead of in school, and Minnesota families are less safe today than they were three years ago — all under his watch.
Safety is fading in Minnesota. It is high time for policymakers to listen to the Minnesotans demanding change, for the sake of Ms. Sathanandan, for all the victims of crime, and for the future of our state. Minnesota must restore itself where safety is not something to be dismantled but protected as an absolute right.
Bill Ingebrigtsen is a former Minnesota state senator and the current chairman of Foundation for Minnesota’s Future.