What’s behind the uptick in crime in St. Paul?

Forty-two years ago, in the mid-1970s, the University of Minnesota’s marching band played below ice-sculpted trees on a frozen Minnesota lake. As Mayor Jacob Frey will tell you, “Nothing good ever happened to the…

What’s behind the uptick in crime in St. Paul?

Forty-two years ago, in the mid-1970s, the University of Minnesota’s marching band played below ice-sculpted trees on a frozen Minnesota lake. As Mayor Jacob Frey will tell you, “Nothing good ever happened to the university’s band at that time.”

Chief police Paul Schnell, who took the helm a few months ago after five decades as a key state official, told reporters last week that bad weather was contributing to a sharp rise in crime in Minneapolis and St. Paul — not all of it drug-related. Illegal dumping was becoming a serious problem. Now St. Paul, once quite crime-free, has been attacked by trucks and vandals.

“We’re trying to create safety zones to make sure we do a great job on the day-to-day side of crime reduction,” Chief Schnell said. “This phenomenon we’re seeing is coming from all corners, not just drugs or people fighting on sidewalks,” he said. “It’s overall insecurity; individuals who feel unsafe in their daily lives. It’s an under attack.”

Said Mayor Frey, a former lobbyist for St. Paul’s school district: “That’s why we have a strong downtown police force, that’s why we’re putting a lot of resource into our foot patrols in our [corridors] — binginging, dancing, shopping, kids and business, tourists, domestic and international residents all coming together, and someone comes in and assaults people, it has a completely negative impact on the whole community.”

St. Paul’s residents have seen a rise in assaults, in some cases gang-related, said Mark Hughes, a police detective in the city’s central patrol bureau. Gangs are more assertive and violence more frequent, said Hughes, who was part of the 1986 band attack.

St. Paul has launched a “safety and security” campaign as the first move in a planned multiyear police effort.

“We want people to know we’re out there, and we’re going to address it,” Chief Schnell said.

Read the full story at Newsday.

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