Crime worries Rochester residents, despite facts

07-20 shooting kk19 16-56-06 11-38-26.JPG

(Photo courtesy of the Post-Bulletin)

Crime is a hot topic in Rochester these days, even though the city’s crime rate has dropped in the past decade. While the population is up 21 percent, most individual crime reporting categories have remained virtually static. But city and police officials say the perception of crime in Rochester is actually getting worse.

Much of that has to do with much-publicized violent crime. In 2009, 24 of the 142 assaults in Rochester involved someone pulling a trigger. The record number of shootings killed one person and injured 23.

Today on the MPR News program All Things Considered, we’ll address how people in Rochester feel about crime and explore how that compares with official statistics.

On Tuesday, MPR News and the Post-Bulletin will host a community meeting in Rochester on crime and the perception of crime in the community.

The event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. at the Mayo Civic Center‘s Grand Ballroom.

Community leaders, law enforcement and criminal justice officials and residents will join us for the conversation.

Residents like Todd Hager are concerned about how the community has changed since the record number of shootings a couple years ago.

Like other residents, Hager wants outsiders to know that overall, Rochester remains a very safe city — one consistently ranked among the best places to live in the United States.

But he laments that the graffiti, drugs and gangs present in Rochester are quickly transforming their way of life.

“Sometimes I think I have a very big gap between reality and my perception,” Hager said. “I perceive a greater danger than there probably really is.”

Rochester and Olmsted County have changed significantly since 2000. The city grew by 21 percent in the last decade to 103,000 residents. Rochester also is much more racially and ethnically diverse.

Demographic estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 10.4 percent of Olmsted County residents do not speak English as their primary language at home. That’s up six percent since 2000. Olmsted County is among the eight most diverse counties in the state.

Police records show Rochester’s overall crime rate has gone down for 15 years. In fact, violent crime alone declined 7 percent during the first seven months of 2010.

Police Chief Roger Peterson said when people think about crime in Rochester, two factors play a major role: growth and race.

“We’re not going to be a small town any more and we’re never going to be an all-white town anymore like we were 35 years ago,” he said.

But while the overall number of crimes has held steady, the city’s increasing population and racial diversity have changed how people perceive crime. And for some Rochester residents, the numbers aren’t nearly as important how they feel.

  • paulette johnson

    We were disappointed in the Tuesday night event. We had hoped to hear from the new CAT team, and from officers who are actually out there on our streets. The Moderator did not keep to the topic, and allowed it to become an agenda of diversity. If we, the people, continue to attend these things, we want a panel of officers, perhaps an open discussion, question and answer time from the public. We do not want to continue to hear from every community advocate in the city regarding poverty, addiction and the lack of education. We applaud the young man who brought it all to closure who said, he found acceptance at the EFree Church, and that helped him make better choices. He didn’t blame anyone and anything for his choices; he took accountability on his own. His was good input. The problems on our street do not involve the youth of Rochester. We are interested in police involvement, proactive neighborhoods, and working together to shut out crime. We want to hear from the officers on the street, not the Chief of Police. We have grown very weary of the race card being played on all that plagues our community.

  • Rebecca Battey

    I would have to agree that I was a little disappointed In Tue. nite meeting,and i was more disappointed in the reporting of the PB.I hope people read the MPR report on this which took place. The reason for my disappointment was i thought it was going to be on what we can do and come up with some solutions.We did get a clear perspective from The Chief Of Police about what we feel and what is true about the crime in Rochester. I believe when people hear the word felon,gangs,drugs,and prositution the fear overwhelms them. We have great deal of hard working people who work in this field that have said that most of the offenders are short term in this behavior. Our crime rate is very good with this size of a town. We need neighborhood watches to report crime and to let people know no matter how big our town gets we still want that small town feel. In say that we also need to be a community who strength families that are lost or down and that is by putting our strong community efforts into just that to strengthen families in need. Those families need their love one who had committed crimes and done there time,and want to start their life new. To beable to pay their fines and restitution,but also the other responsibility to their children and love ones. Which is a roof of there heads and employment. I feel the criminal justice system is a revolving door because there is no forgiveness. People want to punish and feel that they are better than this or that person. Stop punishing and be apart of the solution.I ask our employer,landlords and churches to come together and be apart of the solution.We have a big gap in helping the man who should be a provider to strengthening this family,but how can he live up to any expectation when he don’t have the tools to do it. We need to find what is needed to bring these families out of poverty and the only way is for their fathers to be apart of their lives. If they are set up to fail by no place to live and no job then we are going to have more crime.Plus then we are paying for the housing,we are paying for the welfare of these kids,and those families are not going to get what is needed when their live are dsyfuntional. So let find new solutions by having a forum hopefully at a local church like Harvest Ridge who do work with felon,and have felons and employers,landlords etc and people who are willing to say I can help.Lets one day have no welfare.That is by helping dads get on the right track and feel forgiven and his esteem to come up and say yes thank you for a place to live ,a job,and to be what I know I can be.They are sent to prison to be punish and also we want then to be rehabilitate with job skills etc,but to get out and the employer say not in my place.Then why waste the money! Keep them there forever.No home no job of course they will end up in prison again. Part of the condition are to pay their fine and restitution and childsupport or it is a violation so back to jail or prison you go.Its a very clear

    what needs to be done.They did their time now we need to give them jobs and let them rent a place to live. Then they can do what is order. They will also need to have family counseling and mentor on helping with things that causes their family to be the way it is whatever there dysfuntions may be. Lets be a proactive community and our town will continue to be a safe town.

  • Mary Hartman

    If Rebecca Battey can’t look at her own life and the choices she has made to bring devastation through her own door, she cannot possibly make recommendations on what is needed for others. One cannot receive forgiveness if one carries lies and continues the abuse. It simply doesn’t work that way.