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Minneapolis plans to continue 'Operation Endeavor' into spring months

Under new Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander, the city credits the new public safety plan for a drop in violent crime.

MINNEAPOLIS — After six months, the new public safety strategy in Minneapolis known as "Operation Endeavor" will continue into the warmer spring months, according to Community Safety Commissioner Dr. Cedric Alexander. 

"Oh yes, it's going to continue," Alexander said in a one-on-one interview with KARE 11 this week. "You have not seen the last of Operation Endeavor."

In a broad sense, Operation Endeavor aims to improve coordination between law enforcement, prosecutors, and community groups, while also relying heavily on data and analytics to commit resources to certain high-crime areas of the city. The city announced the plan last fall and, in the months since, has cited Operation Endeavor as one of the reasons for a drop in violent crime. 

A 90-day progress report, spanning late September through mid-December of 2022, showed significant decreases in gun crimes and carjackings, leading the city to conclude that this "initial phase of Operation Endeavor showed positive results in multiple areas, ranging from a drop in crime to an increase in cooperation between law enforcement, community organizations, and business groups."

Those trends appear to have continued in 2023. Across the city, serious crimes such as shots fired, carjackings and robberies have all dropped significantly through the first three months of the calendar year. The number of gunshot wound victims, for example, has dropped 36 percent, from 101 to 65. 

"If you look at the number of crimes going south, that comes from hard work. That comes from focus," Alexander said. "We've still got a lot of work to do in this community. If you just got robbed or you just got carjacked, these numbers mean nothing to you. But, the reality is, we're out here working diligently every day. We have the data to support that we're heading in the right direction and we're going to keep at it."

At the same time, even Alexander admits that crime trends can be quite unpredictable, and certain types of crimes can increase or decrease independently of each other.

In Minneapolis, a major problem has emerged so far in 2023 specifically with motor vehicle thefts. MPD data shows that the city has experienced a 92.7 percent increase in those crimes during the first three months of 2023 compared to this time last year, and compared to the three-year average, motor vehicle thefts are up 109 percent. 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey already joined St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Attorney General Keith Ellison in demanding those two companies recall vehicles without adequate anti-theft systems.

"The bigger issue is if you were to take out the Kia and Hyundai thefts, our numbers would drop significantly," Alexander said. "We're going to continue to track this. We certainly do continue to ask these car manufacturers, Kia and Hyundai, to help us by installing devices that would be necessary to make it not so easy for these vehicles to be stolen."

The number of homicides has also remained basically flat across Minneapolis in 2023, with more than half of the killings reported in North Minneapolis' Fourth Precinct. 

"One thing precinct commanders, all of them are very aware of... we attempt to provide all the support that we can to them, with the minimal staffing that they have," Alexander said. "Our inspectors do an incredible job, as long as our commanders and investigative units, with the number of shortages they do have. They work very diligently to use the time, the resources, use the data and science the best we can, to help us focus and make more use of our time."

In fact, staffing shortages remain a major concern for MPD heading into the warmer spring months. According to the Office of Community Safety, the police department currently has 510 sworn officers on duty, hundreds short of the authorized strength of 888.

"We're having some really, pretty aggressive conversations, and some efforts that are going to be made around our recruiting," Alexander said.

In the meantime, MPD -- and the rest of the Office of Community Safety as a whole -- will have to work with what they have.

"It's about moving in a direction," Alexander said, "in which people feel a sense of safety all the time when they're in this city."

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