Violent crime — homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery — dropped nearly 15 percent in the past year, according to reports from the Minneapolis Police Department.
Proactive citizens and new police services have contributed to a steadily declining crime rate in both Minneapolis and on the University of Minnesota campus, city officials say.
Violent crime has declined city-wide five years in a row, highlighted by a 27-year low in 2010.
Meanwhile, crime on the University campus has dwindled by 6 percent this year, as of June. Violent crime along with theft, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson, fell 4 percent between 2009 and 2010, according to University police reports.
“The things we’re most concerned about are [those] crimes, and those have been falling for several years,” University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. “We’re obviously pleased with that.”
Theft, the University’s most common crime on campus, has dropped dramatically since 1995, when the University recorded 1,263 instances, Miner said. In 2010 that number was down to 568.
Falling crime rates are not unique to the University or Minneapolis. Joshua Page, a sociology assistant professor, said the decline is part of a national trend that’s been going on since the 1990s.
Although crime usually increases during tough economic times, the current decline has stayed consistent — something that has experts scratching their heads, Page said.
“It’s surprising many criminologists and sociologists that crime hasn’t been going up at this time,” Page said. “Quite honestly I don’t think we really have a good grasp on why it keeps going down so much.”
Page said there is no “magic bullet” or contributing factor that has kept crime down. He said it’s a combination of changing demographics, economics and police practices.
Miner said more proactive police work has contributed to the fall in crime on campus. University police employ an analyst who watches crime rates and trends.
University police also have a specialty unit that focuses on preventing crime using data.
“If there is a trend of, say, bike thefts, they are going out and tracking where [the crimes] are occurring, and they try to prevent them from happening or catch someone in the act,” Miner said.
University police also work closely with the Minneapolis Police Department, which currently runs the University’s police reports system.
The relationship between police and Minneapolis residents has brought the biggest change, Minneapolis police Sgt. Steve McCarty said. He added that the neighborhood watch program has made people more aware of crime in their area.