Violent crime on the rise in Minnesota

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(ABC 6 News) – Following one of the most difficult years in our nation’s history, we are coming out on the other side with more violent crime. Shootings are happening more often across the nation and in our own neighborhoods.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension released its annual crime report and the trends are clear. There have been more murders, shootings and arson than usual in the last year.

"I think that’s something that does concern us and should concern us as a whole and as a society," Austin Police Chief David Mkichan said.

The Minnesota BCA reported violent crime increased nearly 17 percent in Minnesota in 2020 compared to 2019.

Murders in the state were up 58 percent – levels the state hasn’t seen since 1995.

Some speculate the pandemic may have something to do with the increase, as more people were confined together last year. Others attribute the rise in crime to a lack of support for police.

"What we’re seeing is kind of an emboldenedness in people to commit violent crimes and I’m talking broad picture. And certainly the anti-police rhetoric and narrative has played a role in that as well. So, I think it’s both," Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin said.

He said violent crimes in Rochester as a whole are actually down this year, but homicides and murders have increased since 2019.

Over in Austin, police are seeing the same trends as the state. Cheif Mckichan said it’s often hard to proactively stop these targeted incidents.

"Austin is a very safe community, but we’re a large enough community where we’re going to see these events from time to time," Chief Mckichan said.

Both police chiefs agree the best way to get ahead of crimes is to build relationships.

"That’s really been productive in dealing with problems in a preventative manner before they become bigger issues. And that’s that relational policing model," Chief Franklin said.

"It’s more than how we police this. It’s how we treat each other before the police get involved," Chief Mckichan said.

Both chiefs said there has to be some awareness of warning signs in our communities.

Many times, violent crimes follow predictable patterns like being in a close relationship with someone who has a long criminal or violent history or being in an environment where guns are a common sight.