Have drug abusers and criminals snatched our city from us, or did we hand it to them in a hand-basket? 

Duluth used to be a great city for families, I went to school in Morgan Park as a kid, and never worried a minute about my safety.  In fact, I remember running around the neighborhood with friends feeling like we owned the place.  

As I hear the news about a 21 year old man and young woman beaten in Morgan Park by a group of men, I wonder when and how it all got so bad. 

Amazingly, in the last decade the overall crime numbers have come down some, but residents skipping their evening walk around the block because they are worried about their safety means we’ve got a lot more work to do. 

The most recent crime data available, from 2013, illustrates a story of a scared city.  Duluth ranked above US averages in both violent and property crimes in 2013, while property crime is down (about 16%) in the last 10 years, violent crime has gone up 12%.

In 2013, Duluth had 153 full time police officers, an average of 1.77 per 1000 residents, slightly more than the Minnesota average of 1.64.  That’s an awful lot of people to serve and protect and in some areas of Duluth, it’s a losing battle before the start. 

From the St. Louis County website you can access the raidsonline.com crime mapping software.  Little dots designate crimes and their locations in Duluth, there are so many in some places you can’t even see the roads on the map.  (Check it out here: https://www.raidsonline.com/ in the “Jump to City” box select MN – Duluth)

Each one of those dots is a reminder of how we have failed.  Not where the police have failed or the laws have failed, but where we have failed.  We’ve created an environment where crime thrives through methadone clinics, poorly managed low income housing, and endless opportunities for those who don’t want to contribute to society, to take from society.  

Yet while we point the finger of blame at these, as the old adage says, “three more are pointing back at you.”  We are all to blame for not speaking up sooner, for not putting our foot down and saying “Not in my town!”.  For not keeping our neighborhoods intact by meeting, knowing, and communicating with our neighbors.  The criminals didn’t snatch Duluth away from us in the middle of the night, we handed it to them in hand-basket. 

A connected community is a major deterrent to crime, and we dropped the ball. There are still good people throughout Duluth, and we can still save this city.  A Mayor’s job is not just to run a city, but to inspire that city, and I want to inspire you to feel like you own this place, once again.  

Build relationships with your neighborhood, speak up when you see something wrong – together we can bring back community and kick out crime.  This is our city and we’re coming to take it back.