Murderapolis Once Again

A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of taking a “short cut” home. After a “Girls’ Night” Happy Hour at Psycho Suzi’s in Da NordEast, someone suggested I take West Broadway past 94 to Golden Valley Road, because it happens to be the most direct route to my house. Bad move: I passed two obvious drug deals in process, one shouting match between some chicks and one unattended car fire. I’ve never been so glad to see the Golden Valley city limits sign. Now, I know this area isn’t the greatest but I have to wonder if the cops have just let it go…

On Monday night, there were 2 more murders in Mpls, making the total homocide count reach 38 for the year. One of those murders occurred off West Broadway and 9th. It’s staggering to fathom 38 people killed in under 7 months in our beloved little Midwestern city. I should point out in all of 2005, Mpls saw 47 murders. Clearly, we’re on pace to surpass that number in 2006 at this rate.

Unless someone gets assaulted, raped or killed, it’s tough to get attention from the Mpls cops.

First, let me qualify that I’m a former South Mpls resident: I owned a home in the Nokomis ‘hood on 54th Street until I moved in with my (now) husband, who lived in Longfellow. We LOVED our neighborhood and we still miss our nosey neighbors, the great little restaurants and the artsy shops we used to frequent. Fortunately, I get to spend lots of time there as my job is located downtown and we have friends still living in the area.

However, I was never impressed with the Mpls PD. There was an occasion upon which a random drunk guy came to our house when I was home alone. He knocked on the backdoor and tried to force his way in when I told him to leave. Realizing the door was locked, he finally left. Had it not been, who knows? The 911 operator I spoke to said there was nothing she could do because no crime was committed. After arguing with her for 5 minutes, she agreed to dispatch a squadcar. I found out an hour later that THREE of my neighbors had a very similar encounter with the same guy just before I did. They called 911 and were told that a cop would come out to interview them. Only, a cop never showed. One of the neighbors called again. He was told a cop would show. They never did.

This was just one example; I have a few others from our days living there.

We’ve kept in touch with a few of our old neighbors and they claim that crime has worsened in Longfellow. Their garages are constantly getting tagged and there are teenage gangs shouting and making noise at all hours of the night. Despite their attempts to engage the police, they’ve been turned away by cops who are busy chasing down drug dealers and investigators with too-heavy a workload.

I’m not suggesting that we pull a cop off an important investigation like those dealing with murder or drugs. But I would argue that it’s the city’s job to provide enough police coverage to deal with not only serious cases but also lesser crimes. Criminalists will tell you that someone who’s able to get away with minor crimes will tend to escalate.

Not only does it feel like city leaders are dropping the ball on proactive measures (like education) but now the reactive measures (like the police) are falling behind too. When will we ever catch up?

11 Comments so far

  1. Dave Dash (unregistered) on July 27th, 2006 @ 5:48 am

    I agree with you, it’s pretty frustrating when you’re told all your life that if troubles a foot, 911 will help.

    What’s been more assuring to me, and I hope it picks up steam elsewhere are community patrols. In CARAG people volunteer their time to just go on walking patrols. They don’t do much more than report crimes, but even just walking in a “gang” of sorts has some sort of positive effect.

    Its also a way of owning a neighborhood… so to speak. Crime or no crime, those are just words on the books. But really if there’s people engaging in something that makes you uncomfortable… I don’t know about you, but I’m likely to keep to myself. With these patrols… they just patrol their hood. It’s their home… and if you feel uncomfortable with your shady dealings, then you can move on.

    I know a community patrol is a far cry from a police force, but its definitely a step in the right direction. Its helpful for people to take charge of things, even if the cops are littered through the city… all it takes is some changes in funding to change that, and not to mention some communities are uncomfortable being policed, but they don’t mind being neighbor’d.

  2. Heather K (unregistered) on July 27th, 2006 @ 8:10 am

    Interesting point about CARAG. Their “Stroll Patrol” program is new, only just starting in March of ’06 after Michael Zebuhr was murdered in Uptown.

    I hope the program is effective in Calhoun and consistently staffed. Getting volunteers is always a challenge, though I read somewhere that they had 50 people sign up the first month.

  3. NorthMpls (unregistered) on July 27th, 2006 @ 8:29 am

    So you had a bad drive down Broadway en route to the suburbs and a less than stellar experience with the police when you lived in sleepy Nokomis? That’s quite the breadth of experience on which to base your assessment of the MPD or the northside. I understand how tough it can be witnessing the insanity in North Minneapolis–imagine what it’s like living here–but the tone and privilege I pick up in your post is aggravating: you succeed in reducing my neighborhood to its crime (do you ever encounter North Minneapolis as anything other than a “shortcut”? Try coming back for the FLOW art crawl tomorrow night, or grab coffee at the Bean Scene or drop by Homewood Studios for Tai Chi some Saturday morning). I guess that’s what it is to 90% of Minneapolitians, thanks to unbalanced coverage by the Strib and, it seems, Metroblogging Mpls.

    On the upside, North has GREAT civic organizations who are working fiercely for change up here, from the PEACE Foundation and MadDads to PCYC, Juxtaposition Arts, and neighborhood organizations that are working to support local businesses on Plymouth, Broadway, and Glenwood. I’m probably overreacting to your post, which was written in the spirit of goodwill I’m sure. I, too, am frustrated, I guess.

  4. Heather K (unregistered) on July 27th, 2006 @ 8:52 am

    Actually, I lived in the Camden neighborhood for 2 years in 1996-97. So I know what it’s like to live through crime happening in that area and again, all of my neighbors felt the PD wasn’t very responsive. THAT and only that was my point here.

    My post was not meant to “reduce (your) neighborhood to it’s crime.” It’s meant to offer my opinion that the city isn’t doing enough to protect these neighborhoods. I’m sorry if I was insensitive in my observations on West Broadway, but I was brought right back to my “short cut” memory when I heard about this most recent murder over there.

    Of course these neighborhoods deserve to have good things pointed out about them – I agree with you there 100%. (I even intend to go to the Art Crawl tomorrow!) But the good in these neighborhoods is EXACTLY what makes me upset that the cops don’t have enough coverage there, because the people there who care about their community deserve that.

  5. Joe (unregistered) on July 27th, 2006 @ 9:06 am

    Is it just me or is Uptown getting more and more ghetto? I’ve seen lots of crazy crap on my street over the last couple of years (car jackings, muggings, beat downs, etc…) but lately it’s gotten a hell of a lot worse. Where is all this crime coming from?

    The police need funding and we need more of them patroling, etc… As it is, I’m thinking about moving – I just don’t feel safe here anymore.

  6. John (unregistered) on July 27th, 2006 @ 10:35 am

    Minneapolis government has created a dysfunctional police system. The mayor and council continue to rule a city based on feeling good. In reality the city is crumbling. Literally! Just look at the streets. The mayor stated a few years back that property taxes would continue to rise in double digits. And that citizens can expect fewer services. And that, with the ever-increasing tax base from all of the over priced lofts and condos being built. Hmmm, I thought the council was concerned about affordable housing…

  7. Urgewyrm (unregistered) on July 27th, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

    NorthMPLS, while I’m not saying that your neighborhood doesn’t have it’s good points, the fact is people are getting killed up there seemingly regularly. This is news and fairly important for people to know.

    People don’t get killed in my neighborhood regularly. People don’t get killed in my girlfriends neighborhood regularly. Hence, these neighborhoods don’t show up on the news.

    When the cops can’t get to your house on time ( and in fact seem to ignore repeated calls for assistance ), it’s time to buy a firearm to defend yourself, your home and your family.

  8. mplsoptimist (unregistered) on July 28th, 2006 @ 1:39 am

    Have you noticed how many people are terribly afraid of mpls? It seems to be an irrational, almost insane, fear. I recently heard the term, “fear junkie”, which I think hits it on the head.

    Here’s how I would describe it:

    FEAR JUNKIE: Live in fear. Watch crime TV. Avoid anything that could be dangerous, which is everything. Don’t let the kids play outside. Be on the lookout for “those people”. Move to a suburb. Buy a firearm.

    I spend a lot of time in so-called “dangerous” areas in mpls. In my opinion, living in fear is just something that you have to flat-out reject. Otherwise, your view of the world gets distorted and your sense of community disappears. mpls is a very safe, clean city with some serious problems. But we can’t just become fear junkies and “buy a firearm.” It’s up to all of us to tackle these problems. If we stand up, we can make mpls into the cleanest, safest, most accepting, most prosperous city in the country.

  9. Urgewyrm (unregistered) on July 28th, 2006 @ 2:39 am

    Yes, because wanting the ability to defend yourself equals FEAR JUNKIE!

  10. Joe (unregistered) on July 28th, 2006 @ 8:46 am

    Hmmm. Fear Junkie ehh. Haven’t heard that one before, but I think it hits a soft spot created by the corporate media and our current government.

  11. Erica (unregistered) on July 28th, 2006 @ 11:11 am

    A guy I work with grew up near Brainerd and now lives in Zimmerman. I mentioned the possibility of going out to eat in Uptown, since that’s where I live and he went on and on about how he might feel safe enough to go into Uptown if I went with him, but he probably wouldn’t go by himself.

    Pffffft. The last time he was in Uptown was probably 10 years ago.

    All I’m saying is if you’re going to have an opinion like that, at least attempt to make it an informed one.

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