MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Police Department is adding resources to an area of the city that is seeing a spike in shootings.
So far this year, city numbers show violent crime is up nearly 11 percent across Minneapolis.
While many residents welcome the added enforcement, the head of the police union believes some officers are afraid to patrol like they used to.
Wilson’s Image barber shop owner Teto Wilson feels like he has seen more police cars riding past his north Minneapolis shop in recent weeks.
“People are certainly concerned for their own safety,” Wilson said.
Wilson said most residents are glad there is a heightened police presence in light of recent shootings, but the solution to violence must include addressing disparities in jobs and education for people living in north Minneapolis.
“I think it would make many, many people feel safer so long as they’re doing their job,” Wilson said.
After several shootings in north Minneapolis in late April, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau ordered two officers from every other precinct (1, 2, 3 and 5) to help patrol gun violence hot spots in the 4th Precinct on weekend nights.
Last week, after another shooting left one man dead and seven others injured, the chief made those extra officers spend seven days a week in the 4th Precinct.
Minneapolis police union President Lt. Bob Kroll believes there is a bigger barrier building that inhibits creating safer streets.
“Other officers are more hesitant to engage in investigating suspicious circumstances,” Kroll said.
While violent crime has increased in the last year across the city by 11 percent, arrests for any type of crimes has decreased 28 percent.
Kroll believes officers are afraid of facing backlash after protests surrounding the officer-involved shooting death of an unarmed black man, Jamar Clark, in November.
“As a result, you’re not getting the guns off the street,” Kroll said. “Proactive police work does a lot of things to deter a lot more violent crime.”
Kroll believes Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg, the officers who shot and killed Jamar Clark, have faced threatening backlash after the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office decided not to charge the two officers with a crime earlier this year.
Protestors occupied the Minneapolis 4th Precinct for almost one month after Clark’s death and continued to protest after the two involved officers were not charged with a crime.
Protestors believe the officers used unnecessary force in shooting Clark, but the county attorney did not find evidence to support filing murder charges.
“Other officers don’t want to be the next news headline,” Kroll said.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” Wilson said. “[The police] certainly need to continue to do their job no matter what. If they’re concerned about being recorded or concerned about being judged then be fair.”
Minneapolis Councilman Blong Yang told WCCO he is also concerned and saddened by the arrest numbers he is seeing and the idea that officers may not be enforcing as actively as they once were.
He met with Harteau on Monday afternoon but said their conversation was private.
Harteau said several factors contributed to the decrease in overall arrests in a statement that reads,
“There are multiple factors that attribute to those numbers; from fewer resources to increased community engagement to being more selective with what types of enforcement action is necessary. Let’s be clear, however: My officers are not responsible for the increase in violent crime, those who commit the acts are.”