Police stats show crime trending down, social issues rising instead

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Duluth police wrapped up a year of transition and challenges. They had a historic number of retirements. And they are in the midst of adding to their ranks.

Those officers are going to be dealing with significant social issues, although crime across the city is down.

Chief Mike Ceynowa and Mayor Emily Larson shared some updates on Thursday.

Ceynowa said that reactive calls are down, like people reporting crimes, but proactive calls are up.

“Despite our staffing shortages, our officers are committed to being proactive in our community and addressing areas of concern identified through data, community members, and community partners,” Ceynowa.

A particular area of concern has been downtown.

Mayor Emily Larson convened a task force last year, and they are working on implementing action steps.

She did say that things sometimes are seasonal. “When the Warming Center is open, people do use it and we get fewer reports of public safety concerns, that relate to people who may be unhoused or unsheltered.”

Shootings and shots fired calls are up, according to Ceynowa. But a majority of those are related to suicides or accidental calls. Overdoses remain a problem as well.

So mental health and substance abuse will continue to be a focus for their teams. “These calls are really hard on our officers, they take time, and it’s hard to see this part of humanity. But we know there are partners with us to help.”

Ceynowa said they are backgrounding another group of new officers, and plan on opening another hiring round in April. That’s in addition to the eight new officers who are almost ready to go solo on patrol, after taking their oath in December.

“Being short staffed is not a long term solution,’ he said. “I’m proud of the staff for doing more work with fewer people.”