September 9, 2021

Crime rates hit a five-year low in downtown Saint Paul
Collaboration and streamlined efforts between downtown stakeholders credited for overall decline in criminal activity

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance today announced that in June, July and August of this year, downtown Saint Paul crime rates hit a five-year low. An analysis of preliminary police data shows that the overall crime rate in the area is 23% lower than 2020, and 10% lower than the five-year average.

The decrease comes after significant investment in and collaboration around public safety in the downtown area between the Downtown Alliance, the City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Police Department, including the creation of the Downtown Improvement District (DID), Mayor Carter’s Community-First Public Safety framework, and additional support during the pandemic, including the authorization of increased overtime for officers downtown.

“Together, we made downtown safety a priority,” said Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. “The success of this effort demonstrates the power of partnerships and what can happen when a variety of resources are dedicated to addressing a public safety issue.”

The creation of a Downtown Improvement District

In 2018 and 2019, the Downtown Alliance piloted the concept of a Street Team and increased activations as part of its Streets of Summer program. The Street Team cleaned up litter and graffiti, provided wayfinding to help visitors and workers, and acted as another set of eyes for public safety responders. The team, along with a newly created Safety Communications Center, are now key elements of the Downtown Improvement District’s overall strategy to increase cleanliness, vibrancy and safety downtown.

“With the creation of the Downtown Improvement District and the opening of our Safety Communications Center, we’ve been able to effectively communicate with DID property owners and their security teams about emerging public safety issues and trends, and activate our Street Team, social workers and other community response workers — requesting police support when necessary,” said John Bandemer, director of the DID Safety Communications Center. “This summer’s crime data is an incredibly good sign that this model is working to accomplish our goal of increasing safety for residents, visitors and workers.”

Increased investments and collaboration during the pandemic

In the height of the pandemic in 2020, the City also dedicated $1 million toward overtime police patrols for downtown and put significant efforts into finding shelter space for the increased number of people experiencing homelessness, working in collaboration with the Downtown Improvement District to streamline efforts. That collaboration has continued through weekly strategy calls with the Downtown Alliance, City, County, Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit police.

“Our Community-First Public Safety framework is proving critical to realizing safer outcomes across our city,” said Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “While we still have work to do, this encouraging trend for downtown demonstrates what is possible when we re-envision public safety and find new ways to collaborate with our partners.”

The #WelcomeBackStPL campaign

In response to the pandemic and to expand the impacts of the Downtown Improvement District (DID), the Downtown Alliance also launched the #WelcomeBackStPL campaign this past spring to safely welcome visitors and workers back downtown and bring positive activity to the area. The campaign, which began in May, has included adding Street Team members to areas outside the DID, as well as hundreds of events and activations throughout the downtown area. The efforts are being funded by more than $1.5 million in committed donations from downtown businesses, organizations, and the City of Saint Paul.

“Having a strong downtown benefits all of Saint Paul, and our focus and investments here will hopefully have impacts that resonate throughout the city,” said Downtown Alliance President Joe Spencer. “We know that the perception of safety plays a key role in how families, employers and residents determine where they visit, work and live, and our comprehensive approach to improving those perceptions is vital to making downtown Saint Paul a vibrant city center for everyone.”


112, 131, 132, 133, 152, 153
Jun – Aug
Jun – Aug
Jun – Aug
Jun – Aug
Jun – Aug
5-year average
2,000 1,882 1,858 2,260 1,748 1,949.6

Source: Saint Paul Police Department