According to Neighborhood Scout, you have a 1 in 27 chance of being a target of property crime in Duluth, and 1 in 337 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. The violent crime stat may seem like a lot, but I bet you know someone, maybe even yourself, that has bought a raffle ticket with worse odds because you thought you had a chance at winning. The truth is, you have a higher chance of being a victim of violent crime in Duluth than in the entire state of Minnesota. (1 in 337 compared to 1 in 364).
Crime watch website crimegrade.org gives Duluth a big D for the city’s overall crime grade, averaged from a B- in Violent Crime, a C in Other Crime, and a D- in Property Crime. The site states that a crime occurs every 2 hours and 2 minutes in Duluth and ranks Duluth in the 22nd percentile for safety, meaning 78% of cities are safer than Duluth.
If your student came home with this report card, you’d likely say “what is going on?!”. Send your kid to their room without their phone and tell them you expect to see changes immediately.
Your student would likely lay blame on those at the school for their bad grades. The teacher only likes certain students, the school district makes them take a dumb class that they will never need in real life, and the principal hasn’t created any programs to help students who are struggling. And all of that may be true, but it leaves out the role the student is playing in their own bad grades.
In Duluth, we see the same thing. We see voters that elect weak, agenda-biased city councilors that only want to focus on their pet projects, a Chief of Police that leads an understaffed and therefore only reactive (vs proactive) department hand-tied by legislation that leaves them telling citizens “there’s nothing we can do”, particularly when it comes to the homeless, and the drug, property, and violent crimes that come with them. And, of course, a Mayor that refuses to acknowledge the dismal and declining state of her city, instead, pretending that voters won’t notice the scary situation unfolding in town if she only focuses on the city’s successes – like COSTCO, a business that when faced with the city’s frustrating development process, initially decided to drop their development in Duluth until local business leaders called foul and drew media attention to the situation.
In the Crimegrade.org report, violent crimes consist of murder, rape, assault, and robbery. Property crimes are described as theft, vehicle theft, burglary, and arson. Other crimes reflected in the “overall” map include vandalism, drug crimes, identity theft, kidnapping, and animal cruelty.
Duluth’s highest rates of crime are in theft, vehicle theft, burglary, vandalism, drug crimes, identity theft, and assault.
A significant amount of the crime in Duluth (as seen in the maps above) is centered around the hillside and downtown, but when you view the violent crime map, you’ll notice that the crime is more spread out. Parts of downtown and Canal Park are colored red meaning they score an “F”. The site admits that where there are more people there is more crime, but the numbers are calculated by crimes per 1000, so scoring an “F” in any population is not the grade you want to bring home.
What can we do? We can ask more questions – like what studies the city itself has done on crime and why they can’t seem to get a handle on it? Or what changes could be made to give police more support in responding to issues, especially when it comes to homeless harassing people and businesses, giving the officers something more than just saying “there’s nothing we can do”. We can demand that the councilors we vote in focus on important issues like crime instead of arbitrary “emergency” mask mandates two years into a pandemic.
And we can ask what we are doing to perpetuate this issue. While it feels good to support those that are down on their luck, our kind-hearted actions can grow the problem more than solve it. If you feed a stray cat on your front step for long enough, you’ll probably end up feeding two stray cats or more, the birds that hang out in your trees won’t feel safe and will leave, and your flower bed will become a litter box. It’s harsh but true. And the consequences are great – and we’re seeing smoke signals – literally, in the last six months with two fires started in homeless encampments – one under I-35 late last year and one this week at the Seaway Hotel in West Duluth.
Earlier this week, Mayor Emily Larson spoke to the Duluth Chamber about the successes of 2021. As we’ve reported in the past, the Duluth Chamber building is located on Lake and 1st Street – the hotbed of homelessness in Duluth where business people trying to enter the building often have to side-step turds, building maintenance has to clean pee of door handles and entryways, and workers in the building refuse to leave through the back parking lot unless accompanied by security due to the homeless that live there. Let’s hope the rose-colored glasses are left at home when she delivers the State of the City address this spring – so she can deliver what we need – a balanced report of the city presented with successes AND failures.
Avoiding our city’s failures means we will never truly succeed – so, until then, we’re grounded.