EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — City officials of several southwest suburbs of Minneapolis have joined forces in an effort to put an end to a rise in car and property thefts.
Friday, the mayors of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka and Plymouth met with their police chiefs and city managers to discuss crime trends and come up with solutions.
Eden Prairie Mayor Ron Case said at the meeting, police chiefs shared crime stats that revealed while overall crime is down, car crimes are "slightly up."
"So there definitely is an uptick, but I think the coverage of those crimes as of late has made them something that people today fear," Mayor Case said. "Fear is real, and I think the number one job that local government has is to keep our people safe."
Case and Plymouth Mayor Jeffry Wosje say one goal is to work with Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to change policies they believe have led to an increase in vehicle-related crimes. Specifically, Case and Wosje pointed to bail reform enacted by Freeman in January that led to those being arrested for car theft not having to post bail.
In January, Freeman listed 19 crimes for which his prosecutors would no longer request bail.
“These crimes are low-level, non-dangerous offenses,” Freeman said at a news conference in December 2020. “What that means to the defendant is that he or she will promise to make all court appearances and follow any other conditions set by the judge. With that, they remain free until their next court hearing.”
But having the perpetrators of these crimes walk shortly after arrest doesn't sit well with mayors, who say their constituents are feeling unsafe.
"Car theft is a pretty big deal," Plymouth Mayor Wosje said. "We think someone should have bail posted. They start stealing those cars, they start bringing them through our communities, and then they just take off from police if we see them."
Wosje added that their police officers are feeling defeated after making an arrest, only to see the perpetrator walk within a few hours.
It's why Case says they'd also like law enforcement to be at the forefront of solutions.
"I think we’re concerned about seeing the impact of those having been removed from the bail list, and again, that’s a conversation our police chiefs really just want to have with the County Attorney’s office," Case said.
The mayors added that they'd like to keep this topic at the forefront of the January 2022 meeting of the Regional Council of Mayors, which involves mayors from more than 50 communities surrounding Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The three steps, outlined formally in the signed agreement, are the following:
- The mayors of this group will facilitate strengthening partnerships with law enforcement and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, with the goal of changing policies which have led to an increase in vehicle-related crimes in our cities.
- Request that the Regional Council of Mayors discuss this topic at its January 2022 monthly meeting and resolve to work in unison to prevent these crimes.
- Law enforcement agencies will build on their decades-long collaboration and continue to coordinate a comprehensive and consistent response to crimes across the metro.
Tuesday, Freeman announced he would ramp up efforts to prosecute carjackings, assigning two special prosecutors to handle those specific cases.
KARE 11 reached out to Freeman's office to see if he would consider reversing the no bail policy on car thefts and have not yet heard back.