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St. Paul pleased with decades-low murder rate; Minneapolis murders down, too

St. Paul reported only eight homicides in the city last year, the lowest since 1965, the mayor's office said.

It's down from 17 in 2010, 15 in 2009, 18 in 2008 and 14 in 2007, says Howie Padilla, police department spokesman.

Minneapolis had 32 reported homicides in 2011, down from 40 the year before, and city officials there say the rate has fallen 44 percent since 2006 and is lower than any year since 1985, with the exception of 2009, when there were 19.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman was understandably pleased with the homicide drop in his city.

"Public safety has always been one of my top priorities. Success takes true dedication from police on the street, real community involvement, and targeted youth outreach from our law enforcement community," Coleman said Friday. "As we move forward, we must continue to expand this approach, aggressively reaching out to our youth, diverting gang formation, and engaging with all of our communities."

Padilla said there's no simple way to describe the drop: "I think there are intervention things we have done to address violence before it gets to be a homicide, like our work to curb domestic violence or the work of our gang unit to address issues there. But I don't know that there are any one or two magic things we have done."

And he notes: "We are cautious not to pat ourselves on the back too much as we know that we have an entire year ahead of us now on which we will be judged next year if the number goes back up to 13 or 14."

In Minneapolis, Mayor R.T. Rybak said he credits the city’s Youth Violence Prevention initiative and the Blueprint for Action for the violence decline.

“When violent crime peaked among youth in 2006, we honestly didn’t know what do. Now we know what to do: the comprehensive, public-health approach to treating youth violence, which we developed in partnership with community, has proven that it gets results," he said in a statement.

“We mourn the young people we have lost; they should have lived much, much longer,” he said. “But the solid framework that helps us learn from those losses is firmly in place. We commit to keep learning and to keep working every day to ensure a safe future for our children."

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