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Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


Graphic video of young people violently stealing vehicles in Minneapolis neighborhoods and parking lots has put many communities on edge about carjackings. And though the number of such incidents is trending lower this year, they remain unacceptably common. Continued efforts are needed to apprehend the perpetrators and drive the numbers still lower.

A violent-crime task force recently reported that initiatives to combat carjacking may have contributed to the lower numbers. Yet the study rightly adds that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), with help from outside agencies, must do more to solve the crimes and make arrests.

The MPD has cleared just 38% of homicides and only 12% of carjackings this year, according to a September report by HEALS 2.0 (Hope, Education and Law & Safety), a public/private coalition of groups. The task force includes representatives from business, law enforcement and the city as well as community and faith leaders. It was formed early this year by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to focus on reducing serious violent crime, with a strong emphasis on juvenile carjackings.

While carjackings have happened throughout the county, about 70% were committed in Minneapolis or by Minneapolis residents, which explains the focus on the city.

The HEALS update says that the number of carjacking cases submitted to the county attorney are down from 2021 to 2022. In 2021, police recorded more than 640 attempted or successful carjackings across the city — more than a dozen per week.

So far in 2022, there have been 403 carjackings and attempts according to the MPD crime data dashboard. That's still high compared to 2019 and earlier. Minneapolis police didn't start tracking carjackings as a separate category until fall 2020; they recorded 170 incidents that year.

The task force will wisely continue some of its efforts such as devoting more federal prosecutors to the crimes, rotating judges on carjacking cases and reviewing detention practices.

"Combating violent crime requires a multifaceted effort: prosecution, community engagement and the work of violence intervention and interruption," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said. "A large part of our strategy is focusing our prosecutorial resources on federal carjacking violations and gun crimes."

Mark Osler, a University of St. Thomas School of Law professor, former federal prosecutor and HEALS member, told an editorial writer that urgent needs include solving more cases, executing outstanding warrants and continuing to focus on hot-spot areas.

To that end, Osler rightly recommends "an immediate infusion" of new investigators. They could come from other agencies in the region and with the help of funding available through the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Minneapolis has lost a lot of investigators and that harms the clearance rate," he said. "The city is planning to bring on more officers; however, that takes time and is a solution for 2024. This needs to be addressed right now."