Martha Holton Dimick became a prosecutor in Hennepin County in 1999 – as Minneapolis was trying to shed its “Murderapolis” nickname – and was the first community prosecutor assigned to handle violent crime in north Minneapolis.
That year, the city recorded more than 45 homicides, but a decade later that number was less than 25, Dimick said.
“I know we can do that again,” Dimick said.
Dimick, 68, still lives in north Minneapolis. The Milwaukee native moved to Minneapolis to begin her legal career, working as an attorney for multiple firms. She was later hired by the Hennepin County Attorney’s office – then led by Amy Klobuchar – and went on to become Minneapolis’ deputy city attorney. She also taught for several years at William Mitchell College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline).
In 2012, Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Dimick to be a judge serving the Fourth Judicial District.
Dimick retired from the bench in order to run for Hennepin County Attorney. But she said her connections remain and would be a boon for residents looking for results in the form of increased public safety and police accountability if she was elected.
“I’m not in the [judge’s] club anymore, but I can call a lot of colleagues at the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, I can call colleagues on the bench and county commissioners,” Dimick said. “I know the county board administrator, I know probation workers. The whole county attorney’s office is supportive of me because they know me and that I know the system and what needs to be changed.”
Dimick’s plan for reducing the number of murders and other violent crimes across the county is to send a strong message: “Violent criminals will be prosecuted.”
“I think when we had that ballot question [to ‘dismantle’ the Minneapolis Police Department] and the Minneapolis City Council members were on stage with that big sign that said ‘defund,’ that was a terrible message,” Dimick said. “If you notice an uptick in crime, not only with the fact that we are dealing with COVID, but the uptick in crime had a lot to do with that message and the surrounding messages that came with the ballot question. I voted ‘No.’ Most of my neighbors on the Northside pushed that result to ‘No’ because we need police. We are the ones going through all the homicides.”
But Minneapolis isn’t the only place seeing an uptick in crimes like carjackings and burglaries, Dimick said. If crime can be slowed in Minneapolis, she believes it will stop spreading throughout the suburbs.
Dimick believes in criminal justice reform — like ensuring that judges make decisions that are equal and consistent for everyone — but she said that concerns of mass incarceration in the state are overblown.
“There are people running around shouting about high incarceration rates,” Dimick said. “Not in Minnesota. They are talking about other places in the country.”
Dimick pointed out Minnesota has the fourth lowest incarceration rate of all U.S. states and that the people who are put in prison in Minnesota belong in prison. Dimick, who supports abortion rights, said she would not prosecute abortion cases.
“Violent, repeat offenders – they are dangerous. They belong in prison,” Dimick said.
Police reform would also be a priority, Dimick said. She said she hears from residents outside of Minneapolis who love their police and are angry with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) for making their own officers look bad.
Dimick said MPD has “a broken internal culture” and that the department needs to concentrate on new training organized by an outside entity. She acknowledges the department needs to hire more officers, but she said she wants the city to say that it specifically wants officers of color.
“Why can’t they say that?” Dimick said. “Make these people feel like you want them.”