Just because you’re not seeing as many headline stories about the chaos in downtown Minneapolis these days doesn’t mean that conditions on the ground have returned to normal. While the size of the riots and demonstrations may have abated a bit, residents and business owners there are still dealing with a “new normal” that’s anything but normal. Crime is up across the board, including both property crime and violent crimes against persons. Many residents have already described the situation as being akin to “living in a war zone.” This is particularly true of the city’s 3rd Precinct, where robberies and assaults continue to plague the people who live and work there. The owner of Pedego Electric Bikes sent an email to the local Police Chief saying that his employees are too frightened to come to work now. The answer he received was none too reassuring. In fact, it made it sound like the shop owners are pretty much on their own. (CBS Minneapolis)

There’s no long-term plan, and reinforcements aren’t coming anytime soon.

That’s what the head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct said in an email to a business owner who shared that his employees are scared to go to work.

The neighborhood block of shops near East 48th Street and Chicago Avenue has felt the impact of recent crime. Craig Paulson owns Pedego Electric Bikes.

“Couple robberies. Two, three robberies in the area, and some break-ins and a couple of crazy stunts,” Paulson said.

This is the response that Craig Paulson received from Inspector Sean McGinty:

As far as a long-term plan I don’t have one. I have lost 30% of my street officers since the end of May. Budget cuts from COVID-19 and an additional 1.5 million from the council in August we have let go 17 CSO’s and canceled a recruit class of 29. A potential Cadet class slated for January of 2021 was also eliminated. It takes about a year to get a police Officer onto the streets with hiring, backgrounds and field training so reinforcements aren’t coming anytime soon. We are doing everything we can with what we have. I hate to see great businesses like yours and the rest of your corridor being victimized and feeling unsafe. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

They don’t have a long-term plan. Reinforcements are not on the way. How would you feel if you received a message like that from the police? This sounds more like the script for a war movie about a hopelessly trapped platoon than a news report about a municipal police force.

The 3rd Precinct, like much of the overall Minneapolis police force, is on the ropes. Yes, there were budget cuts caused by the plague, but the cops’ budgets were further slashed by the City Council in response to the Defund the Police movement. A new class of recruits is not being trained at present. Many officers have either taken early retirement or simply quit. They are undermanned and overworked.

Adding to their woes in this specific part of the city is the fact that the 3rd Precinct doesn’t even have a police station. The rioters burned it to the ground in May. Since then, they’ve been working out of makeshift offices at the Minneapolis Convention Center which isn’t even located in the precinct. The police department was negotiating to lease space from a local business warehouse for a temporary command center, but those negotiations fell through earlier this week so they are still effectively homeless.

And how did some of the local residents respond to the news that a new precinct HQ – even a temporary one – would not be forthcoming? They celebrated. Here’s the response from Robin Wonsley of the Seward Police Abolition Group. (Emphasis added)

I think we’re celebrating this as a victory, and making it very clear to our elected leaders that you need to move forward with the process that you promised in June,” Wonsley said. “We do not want to see any movement on re-opening this precinct.”

Keeping the burnt-out police station closed down and not being replaced is a “victory” in the minds of these people. And that’s being announced at the same time that residents and business owners are begging for help because it’s not safe to even go to work or leave their homes. And in the midst of all this mayhem, the City Council actually had the nerve to ask the police chief why there is so much crime.

I’ll close with one prediction that applies to most major cities these days. When the cops are unavailable to come to the aid of citizens, those citizens – particularly business owners – will increasingly take matters in their own hands. That’s why new, first-time firearms purchases are breaking records all over the country. And sooner or later, the rioters robbing stores, workers and random pedestrians are going to realize that their lives were a lot more secure when the cops were around.