MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Police Department data shows about 2,100 criminal incidents were reported in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota this past year — a 40% increase from the nearly 1,500 reported in the previous year.

Police say the surge is coming at an unusual time. Crimes typically increase during the end of summer and early fall because of new incoming students, says Minneapolis Police Public Information Officer John Elder.

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“When there’s a large number of people there, we usually see an uptick in crimes around universities usually in August and September because you have a whole new batch of people coming in who may not be aware of security measures to take,” Elder said.

Of the surrounding campus neighborhoods, the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood saw the highest spike in crimes, with a 60% increase this past year.

Steve Sturm, a husband and father of two, explained that he no longer feels safe living near the Twin Cities campus.

“It is getting too dangerous, there’s a lot of gunshots all the time,” Sturm said. “We actually put sandbags around [my child’s] bed for a little bit in case of stray rounds.”

The Prospect Park neighborhood saw a 36% increase in reported crimes this past academic year.

Dinkytown (credit: CBS)

Last week there were double robberies. A month ago, there were shootings that left five injured. Prior to that incident, a teenager was killed in a homicide case.

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“Nowadays it’s so scary to just walk down here and it shouldn’t be like that,” student Emma Simdorn said.

Since the shootings in Dinkytown last month, police have increased late-night patrols. The university plans to install additional security cameras and phone boxes, as well as improving street lighting. The school will also rely on safety ambassadors program in which community members would help patrol the Dinkytown area.

Still, neighbors believe more needs to happen.

“These are criminals, so they need to get arrested, they need to go to jail,” Sturm said. “The courts need to change, people need to stay in jail.”

Sturm doesn’t expect crime to end unless changes come from the city and state level.

“There’s nothing MPD can do until all that changes, until the laws change back to the way they were. Stop paying people off for their lawsuits, they need to fight that stuff,” he said.

While the surge in crime is at its highest level in at least a decade, police say Minneapolis is not unique to it.

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“We have seen an increase in crime across the city. Since May of 2020, all major metropolitan cities have been seeing an increase of part one crimes, those are the violent crimes,” Elder said.

Pafoua Yang