Friday, May 12, 2006

Culture Of Crime?

Channel 5 KSTP Eyewitness News has been investigating the extent of crime in the Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis entertainment areas since the brutal slayings of Michael Zebuhr and Alan Reitter. On its 10pm newscast Thursday night, they showed video taken from both areas, showing activity that goes unreported in the local MSM.

The report appears to focus on the "after-bar" crowds, with a lot of drunken fighting and so on. One might say that that kind of behavior is standard and expected in an entertainment district that features bars and drinking, but, as they note, there are also real crimes such as drug dealing, and anti-social behavior such as urinating in public.

One of the trends I've noticed over the last year or so is crimes which occur just out of the "mainstream" entertainment areas. A person might conclude their bar time and walk through parking lots or down darker sidewalks to their vehicle, only to get jumped and mugged, or worse.

A prime example of this is the beating death of a young father, Thomas Dahl, who found himself in the scenario I described above. He paid with his life, as I report in this 11/5/05 post: "Violence continues to plague Minneapolis".

KSTP News details some of the activity that sets up the potential for real trouble: "EXCLUSIVE: Just how safe is Minneapolis?".

Nearly two months have passed since two high-profile shootings in Minneapolis, and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went undercover to investigate just how safe the city really is.

The investigation witnessed a disturbing side of Minnesota’s largest city, but also an important police effort against crime that is largely unnoticed.
Recall that Alan Reitter's murder happened at approximately 11:30pm, and Mr. Zebuhr's much earlier. It's the "prime time" crime that is most disturbing, because you can't shrug it off and say that the people who are out in the middle of the night should expect trouble. Trouble came to these two men in particular when they were doing what any of us might have been.

Is there a general disorder in the entertainment areas?

The statistics reveal that certain crimes have occurred more often than at this time last year.

Two people have been murdered in Uptown already this year, while no murders were committed in he neighborhood last year. The area has seen six robberies so far, compared to 17 for all of 2005.

One person has been murdered in Downtown, the same as last year, but the neighborhood has seen 24 robberies, compared with 50 during all of last year.

Our investigation adds other concerns to those statistics, as we witnessed numerous instances of other crimes and disturbing behaviors.
The numbers throughout the city are up from last year, and last year was no picnic.

Our cameras captured numerous fights between groups of people, one actually up against the side of our news van.

These fights often involved intoxicated individuals who were not easily controlled by police.

“You (expletive) slug me I'll kick your (expletive)!" said one officer to a threatening man, as he and fellow officers tried to stop a fight.

Minneapolis Sergeant Dean Christiansen supervises the night shift in the first precinct, and says unruly behavior usually starts around midnight.
These behavior patterns can invite criminal intent, and criminals feel comfortable sitting on the fringes waiting for victims.

We also captured drug deals, a man urinating in a parking lot, a woman vomiting on a street corner and aggressive panhandlers.

But what was most obvious was the police presence, as everywhere our cameras looked we saw police walking, driving, standing and just keeping watch.

"Presence is the big thing out here, to have the police out here, because that's going to deter the majority of the crime,” Christiansen says.

Police presence is great, but the additional funding won't last forever. There are too many hardcore criminals roaming the streets of the city, and too many gangbangers looking for an excuse to get violent. When the bad people meet the good people, bad things happen.

The goal is to eliminate the incentives for criminals to work their trade in our city and state. The current city leadership can't or won't take care of the "root problems", and Minneapolis will suffer until someone steps up and takes control.

Thanks to KSTP Eyewitness News for their good reporting of this story as well as many others not covered in the Red Star and other local dead tree MSM over the last year.