A Safer Shakopee? City's Crime Rate Improves Five Years Running
While a hot topic during the Shakopee elections this fall, the numbers show crime is down in the city.
While crime was a hot topic during the Shakopee elections this fall, the numbers show Shakopee is actually getting safer.
“We really do live in a safe community,” said Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate. “Maybe we haven’t done a good job putting that message out there.”
Data collected by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension seems to bare out the fact that crime in Shakopee is down.
Those numbers show the crime rate has steadily declined each year since 2006, from 10.2 percent that year, to 7.8 percent in 2010. The city is on pace in 2011 for another decline, Tate said. With the year drawing to a close, the city has yet to record a homicide.
“When you factor in all the area attractions we have, you’ll find our crime rate is more than respectable,” Tate said, referring to Shakopee’s added population through visitors to Canterbury Park, Valleyfair and Renaissance Festival.
And when it comes to closing cases, the department hit a recent high with a 56 percent rate in 2010. Shakopee is consistently above the Twin Cities average of about 46 percent, Tate said, yet he and his staff aren't "beating their chests" about it.
"Crime is down nationwide," he said. “You get someone that commits a spree and it can affect the crime rate a lot. So we remain highly motivated."
Mayor-elect Brad Tabke said during his campaign that while Shakopee is generally safe, the department is short 10 officers—now at 47—citing a city plan from 2008. Tabke wants to re-evaluate that plan to measure today's need. Another goal of Tabke’s is to create a long-term plan to address gang-related crime, which he referred to as “problems creeping up that we’ll need to deal with.”
“I don’t think we have an overwhelming gang problem, but there is gang-related activity happening in Shakopee,” Tabke said. “We see some starting at the middle school and junior high levels and we need to stay on top of it, stay involved in their lives, so it doesn’t become a bigger problem.”
Tate said he knows of Shakopee residents who belong to motorcycle or street gangs such as the Latin Kings and the Sureños, and that police are charged with staying on top of their activities.
Still, he added, "The fact of the matter is, we’re not seeing —outside of general gang graffiti—a lot of crime activity we can attribute to gangs.”
This is in comparison to 2010, when Shakopee saw some high-profile cases of gang-related violence, including a knife fight outside Hunter’s Ridge Apartments that left an 18-year-old man dead and three wounded. Everyone involved in that incident is in custody, as are those involved in a few other gang-related fights in 2010. Tate said, in general, his officers these days are busier keeping tabs on people who do not have gang ties.
In the schools, Resource Police Officer Bridget Rettke is in her second year after working as a patrol officer. She said she assumed she’d see the same level of gang activity in the schools as she saw firsthand on the streets. Instead, Rettke has been pleasantly surprised.
“The gang influence is here,” she said. “You see some signs on notebooks and we deal with some clothing, but they mostly leave it at that.”
Shakopee High School Assistant Principal Paul Nettesheim said he thinks by the time they’re in high school, students know if they get in trouble, they’ll have two sets of consequences—from police and from the school.
“They’re in the building. They’re going to class and doing the work," Nettesheim said of students who affiliate with gangs. "To say things don’t happen here—nobody has the perfect school—but I think we do a good job.”
Shakopee resident Jason Clough addressed city council members at a meeting several weeks ago, not to complain about crime, but to question the amount of money the city plans to spend on police in 2012.
“It seems very safe to me,” he said about living in Shakopee. "Could that (amount of money) be lowered to spend more on economic development?"