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Minneapolis Projected to End 2010 with 2nd Lowest Number of Homicides in 25 Years

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Despite media cries of a murder rampage in January, the number of homicides in Minneapolis is on pace to tie its second lowest tally since 1986

For those untouched by the crimes themselves, many Minneapolis residents may have already forgotten that the City of Lakes began 2010 with five murders during the first eight days of the year.

Unless, that is, they happen to stumble across news articles the Minnesota media was actually writing at the time - portending in grim prose about the year in violent crime to come.

As Smart Politics previously observed, the media was quick to panic in January - suggesting the City had entered into some new era of a homicide spree:

"Minneapolis homicides: Murderopolis redux?" (City Pages, January 27, 2010)

"In Minneapolis, why the jump in homicides?" (MPR, January 27, 2010)

Unswayed by the statistical anomalies and the (horrific) episodic events that began the year, Smart Politics projected 2010 would not see an aberrant number of homicides in the city by year's end.

And what happened?

The frequency of homicides in Minneapolis began to decline as the year went on, and, by the mid-point of 2010, the number of murders (24) had settled to a pace that was on par with its decade-wide average, about 45. (Approximately 55 percent of the City's murders over the past decade have occurred during the first six months of the year).

And now, with just two weeks left in 2010, that pace has slowed even more so that Minneapolis is now projected to tally its second lowest number of homicides in a generation.

The City of Lakes has recorded 39 homicides in 2010, which is the second lowest tally since 1986, and is now on pace for 40 for the year.

The headline written on January 1, 2011 by the Minnesota media may still well be that homicides have slightly more than doubled in the City since 2009, during which only 19 were tallied.

Unfortunately, 2009 was the aberrant year - as Minneapolis had not seen so few homicides since 1983, when 18 were recorded.

After 2009, the second-lowest murder count in the City over the past 25 years occurred in 2008 (40).

Therefore, it appears Minneapolis' three lowest levels of homicide recorded in a generation will have all taken place during the last three years.

What is perhaps most interesting is that this three-year nadir in murders since the mid-1980s comes during a period of economic unrest for the City.

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minneapolis' three highest average yearly unemployment rates over the past 20 years have occurred in 2008 (5.1 percent), 2009 (7.4 percent), and 2010 (6.7 percent). (A 5.1 percent unemployment rate was also recorded in 2003).

Overall, there have been an average of 53 murders in Minneapolis per year over the last 25 years.

That means 2010's projected tally of 40 homicides is 25 percent lower than the average year.

That sure is a long way from a 'jump' in homicides.

And that is a pretty good record on which Mayor R.T. Rybak could run for higher office.

That didn't work out for Rybak in his 2010 gubernatorial bid, and, unfortunately for him, both U.S. Senate seats, the 5th Congressional District seat, and soon all four state constitutional offices are held by DFLers.

Still, "Murderoplis redux?"

No, murders reduced.

Number of Homicides in Minneapolis by Year, 1982-2010

Year
#
2010
39*
2009
19
2008
40
2007
47
2006
57
2005
47
2004
54
2003
46
2002
47
2001
43
2000
50
1999
47
1998
58
1997
58
1996
83
1995
97
1994
62
1993
58
1992
62
1991
63
1990
56
1989
47
1988
49
1987
47
1986
48
1985
32
1984
32
1983
18
1982
38
* Through December 13, 2010. Data source: City of Minneapolis Police Department.

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