"Drivers are scared": Minneapolis police issue city-wide alert over wave of violent carjackings

San Francisco’s not the only city dealing with the consequences of hands-off law enforcement policies. The city of Minneapolis has experienced waves of violent crime ever since the George Floyd riots and looting, with carjackings escalating nearly exponentially as police retreated. Now the Minneapolis PD has issued a “city-wide alert” warning rideshare drivers of the high risk of robbery and assault, advising them to abandon their vehicles if confronted.

Some drivers question the timing on the alert, WCCO notes:

A crime alert has been pushed out for Minneapolis after multiple rideshare drivers have been assaulted and robbed at gunpoint.

The city says everyone should be concerned. Police say since mid-August, more than 40 Uber and Lyft drives have been robbed or carjacked with 12 in just the last seven days.

Police say many of these instances have happened in north Minneapolis. While officers have arrested some suspects, the trend continues. …

Minneapolis police say there have been multiple incidents where rideshare drivers are asked to wait a few minutes. A group of armed people may come and block the drivers vehicle then try to rob the driver. Some drivers have been assaulted and pistol whipped.

The Star Tribune also reported on the alert for Saturday’s edition in a more bare-bones fashion. They note that police have made some arrests, but neither the Strib nor WCCO point out the obviously increased impunity with which these violent criminals act. Cab drivers have long faced these kinds of risks, as I can well attest from a brief period of time in that job in 1988. Uber and Lyft drivers have had fewer such risks thanks to the required identification of both drivers and riders in the transaction, plus a better sense of control over the process than in traditional cab-hailing.

WCCO asks what took police this long to issue the alert. One could question, however, why the alert is taking place for another reason. Voters in the city will have an opportunity to eliminate the charter requirement for a police department and for minimum level staffing of it next week in Minneapolis’ civic elections. Issuing the alert now reminds everyone involved in the ridesharing industry of the spike in violent crime that has accompanied the “abolish the police” push by the city council, and might be more motivated by politicking than the undeniable public-safety crisis gripping Minneapolis.

Regardless of motive, however, a spike of 40 carjackings in just the rideshare industry in two months is more than sufficient cause for a public safety alert. It’s also a good reason for Minneapolis voters to carefully consider their choices in next week’s referendum. Sixteen months of experimenting with law enforcement retreats is far too long already.