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The Sky Is Not Falling: Minneapolis 2010 Homicide Tally Settling at Decade-Long Average

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Despite rash of homicides in January, number of murders in Minneapolis projected by end of 2010 right at 10-year average

Shortly after the City of Minneapolis suffered through five homicides after eight days to begin the new year, the Twin Cities media unleashed panic-ridden headlines which suggested the city was under siege and a new trend in homicides had been ushered in 2010:

"Minneapolis homicides: Murderopolis redux?" (City Pages)

"2010's violent start unsettles city" (Star Tribune)

"In Minneapolis, why the jump in homicides?" (MPR)

At the time, Smart Politics cautioned:

"Episodic events at the beginning of the year should not be cast as signs that the City is in the midst of a violent crime frenzy."

The Smart Politics report went on to explain that because the homicides were occurring in a convenient media frame - the start of a new year - the press coverage invested more predictive value than appropriate into how this string of murders would shape the City's homicide rates for the rest of the year.

In fact, the report observed, back in January 2007, Minneapolis experienced a similar situation when five murders were committed during the first two weeks of the year, but only ended up with seven total for the month and 47 for the year.

As it turns out, the Minneapolis had only two more homicides over the remaining 23 days in January 2010, for seven total.

And now, nearly six months into 2010, Minneapolis' homicide tally stands at 24, and, according to a Smart Politics projections, are likely to settle right at the average number of murders the City has seen over the last decade by year's end.

From 2000 through 2009, there were 450 homicides in Minneapolis, or an average of 45 per year, according to data culled from the City of Minneapolis Police Department's Uniform Crime Reports.

Because homicides are extremely rare events, they are not spread out evenly across the 12-month calendar - a point missed by Twin Cities press during the flurry of homicides to begin the year.

Frequently, however, it is the warmer months of April through September that are witness to the largest spikes in homicides, not January.

For example, seven of the eight months since 2000 with eight or more homicides in Minneapolis occurred during these warmer months: June 2005 (10), June 2006 (9), July 2000 (8), September 2003 (8), August 2004 (8), July 2006 (8), and August 2007 (8).

Over the last ten years, 47.3 percent of yearly murders in the City occurred during the months of January through June (213), with 52.7 percent taking place from July through December (237).

However, over the last five years, 53.8 percent of homicides took place during the first half of the year (113), with 46.2 percent in the second half (97).

So, now that the rash of murders Minneapolis experienced at the beginning of the year is in its rear view mirror, and there is a statistically significant sampling of days from which to analyze, what is Minneapolis' projected 2010 homicide tally?

By one measure, with 24 murders occurring during the first 172 days of the year, Minneapolis is on pace for one murder every 7.17 days for 2010, which would put the City at 25 homicides through June and 51 through December.

However, it is important to view the five murders that took place during the first eight days of 2010 as a statistical aberration. After all, there were more murders in the City during that span than for all of 74 of the 120 months from 2000 through 2009.

Since January 9th, the City has experienced one homicide for every 8.63 days, or two fewer homicides per quarter than if you include the first eight days in the calculations.

This seems to be the more likely measure to use, and Smart Politics therefore projects the city will endure an estimated 21 murders from July through December, or 46 for the year (projecting one more to occur in June).

While that number may seem high compared to the jaw-dropping low number of homicides tallied in 2009 (19), it would be right at the decade-long average of 45 homicides per year.

In fact, if you exclude 2009 from the data set (a statistical outlier by all accounts across modern Minneapolis crime data), the average number of murders in Minneapolis from 2000 through 2008 was 48 per year.

Which leaves one question for the Twin Cities media: will they report with as much gusto that the city's murder rate in 2010 is not out of the ordinary as they did that the sky was falling in January?

Number of Homicides in Minneapolis by Six-Month Period, 2000-2009

Year
Jan-Jun
Jul-Dec
Total
Jan-Jun %
2010
25**
21**
46**
54.3**
2009
6
13
19
31.6
2008
18
22
40
45.0
2007
26
21
47
55.3
2006
32
25
57
56.1
2005
31
16
47
66.0
2004
20
34
54
37.0
2003
22
24
46
47.8
2002
21
26
47
44.7
2001
18
25
43
41.9
2000
19
31
50
38.0
2000-2009
213
237
450
47.3
2005-2009
113
97
210
53.8
** Smart Politics projections. Source: City of Minneapolis Police Department. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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3 Comments


  • TC Daily Planet reported on "Looking at crime by the numbers" last week, and included links to local (Minneapolis and St. Paul) police/crime statistics and directions on how people can find the information. Take a look - http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2010/06/12/looking-crime-numbers-minneapolis-and-st-paul

  • It still horrible and almost double the national average of 7.6/100,000.

    Face it we have a problem here. Trying to sugar coat it by saying it's not as bad as it could be does ZERO in actually helping to solve the problem. You know what? People are sick of this.

    The murder rate here is more than double the murder rate of NYC and is almost as bad as the murder rate of Los Angeles.

    Over 80% of murders are drug related so the best way to keep the murder rate down would be very strict punishment for drug traffickers and dealers. I'm talking life in prison for drug trafficking. 10 year minimum for dealing. Then maybe finally you will finally get your low Murder rate Minneapolis.

  • Mandatory minimums only ensure our prisons overfilled with junkies and small time dealers. If anything go move to nyc if there's so many less murders. I'd love to see the day when man has the power to prevent murder. Seems like a fairy tale to me. Minnesotans are hardy because our weather sucks balls and we could be murdered at any time, and I'm proud of that.

  • Leave a comment


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