Feb 16, 2021 - News
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter responds to surge in crime
Photo illustration of a collage of St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, with St. Paul and blocks of color.
Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Faced with growing pressure to address an increase in crime, Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul, Minnesota, is renewing his call for a comprehensive, "community-first" approach to improving public safety.

Driving the news: "Waiting to respond after somebody calls 911, after something terrible has happened, it's just insufficient," Carter told Axios last week.

What's happening: Violent incidents were up 25% in St. Paul in 2020, as cities nationwide grappled with a spike in crime.

What he's saying: Carter said the troubling trend underscores the need to focus on investments and preventative measures in communities most at risk for crime. He argued fallout from the pandemic — including unemployment and people feeling "disconnected from their neighbors" — is making things worse.

  • "When people feel hopeful about the future, when people are connected to community, when someone can ask for a cup of sugar ... those are the strongest tools that we have to reduce violence and crime in our community."

Yes, but: Carter acknowledged that more needs to be done now.

  • The city will be "shifting resources and shifting deployment" to respond to incidents and address hot spots, he said.

Of note: Carter said initial data shows gang-involved violence decreased in 2020 following early intervention efforts, while domestic incidents increased.

  • "What we need to do to solve that problem is different. They're two completely different strategies, two completely different approaches."

What to watch: We'll have more from our interview with Carter tomorrow.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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