The New York Times, The Systems Scientist, and the 2014 Annual Crime Rate

By Matt Johnson

Well, it took me a little bit of time, but I mined the crime statistics from the City of Minneapolis website. I organized the data into neat and accessible tables and data sets for current and later use.  I did this for a couple of reasons. First, crime is an important indicator of the attractiveness of the city.

As an adverse effect on the city, crime decreases safety, increases police presence, which takes money and resources from other applications and policies that could be utilized to increase the utility for those residents who reside in those crime infested neighborhoods.

Think of crime as a negative investment. Crime also has a bad reputation for those who would otherwise be interested in purchasing property as a potential or current resident, or for those who would otherwise be interested in opening a business and providing a product and service to the local neighborhood residents. Furthermore, crime has security costs for those already established business owners. This is money that could be better utilized in other facets of business and community.

Second, the crime tables will provide us with illustrations of behavioral patterns between the various subsystems and the general system of Minneapolis. As we’ve seen from previous articles, these systems’ behaviors can sometimes be similar in nature and sometimes they can be different in nature.

Table 1
Table 1

As Table 1 shows, crime increases throughout the summer months. Would these behavioral patterns of the general system exist in the subsystems of South Minneapolis? Would they be reflective of one another? Would the behavioral patterns of the wards and neighborhoods on the north side reflect the behavioral patterns of the general system of Minneapolis?

Previous articles suggest there would be similar behaviors between the north side’s subsystems and the general system of Minneapolis; whereas, these behaviors would not be similar between the General Minneapolis System and the wards and neighborhoods on the south side.

And finally, as I progress as a scientist and a writer, and I learn to harness my inner Neil deGrasse Tyson, I will begin to engage, push back against, and challenge those who talk or write about events, statistics, or ideas in the urban environment. As an example, John Eligon recently wrote in an article in The New York Times

…the highest crime rate of the city’s five police precincts was in the Fourth Precinct covering North Minneapolis, which reported 1,428 violent crimes last year through November, including 18 murders.

Is this true statement true? Is it true that the highest crime rates in the City of Minneapolis reside in the city’s north side? Is it true that there were 1,428 violent crimes throughout the 2014 year? Is it true that there were “18 murders” in north side in 2014? What does he mean by “North Minneapolis?” And lastly, is this biased reporting by a person who doesn’t understand the north side and its dynamics?

With the data that I’ve extracted from the City of Minneapolis, I will be able to confirm or falsify Mr. Eligon’s statement and assertions. I will be able to address the data in his statement, which by the way was not linked to a source. Apparently, he’s just saying it. And notice his article doesn’t provide any direction or solutions.

I realize that I have not yet provided any solutions, or speculative solutions, myself. I’ve done this for two reasons. First, I wanted to establish myself and some of the data. I am slowly but surely building a systems model for Minneapolis and its subsystems. It takes time and dedication. It’s not an easy process, nor should it be.

The people of North Minneapolis have seen flimsy and questionable policies from a variety of people from all walks of life. I’m not calling anybody out. What I’m saying is that the residents of the north side deserve better and if I’m gonna write or propose something, I’m gonna make damn sure that its been thoroughly thought through and that it’s supported by the data and systems analysis that I’ve been slowly building. It’s taken decades if not centuries for this bipolar existence to happen in the inner cities of the United States and I won’t add to the problem.

For further reading on similar subject matter, I invite you to read The Simple Behaviors of Cities, The General System of Minneapolis: ForeclosuresForeclosure Rates: Wards 2, 4, and 5 from 2006 to 2015 and Patterns of the 5th Ward: “Race”.

Remember, you are always welcome to post your comments, thoughts, and questions below. Feedback is always appreciated.



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