ST PAUL, Minn. — Mayor Melvin Carter said Monday he will consider offering an extra 2020 budget item to address long-term gun violence in St. Paul, as the city continues to grapple with one of the most violent years in recent memory.
Fewer than 24 hours after a shooting near Allianz Field, the mayor announced at a news conference inside City Hall that he is “envisioning a possibility of bringing to the city council a supplemental budget proposal that would focus on public safety from a comprehensive level.”
Mayor Carter did not say how much the supplemental proposal would cost, and he did not offer exact details. However, he said the potential item would target three main issues: The engagement of at-risk young people, helping the homeless population and focusing on mental health treatment.
“What we’re seeing is that cycle repeating itself, and that’s what we need to focus on,” Carter said. “Not just, ‘how do we get out of this moment’, but, how do we get out of this cycle?”
The mayor also said his office will soon announce the details of “community engagement” sessions that would involve neighborhoods, business owners and the general public as a whole.
Although overall violent crime across the U.S. has fallen drastically over the past several decades, the city of St. Paul has experienced significant troubles in the 2019 calendar year. The homicide total through mid-October has more than doubled from last year, increasing from 11 at this time last year to 24 in 2019. So far this year, 136 people have been shot, compared to 112 people at this time last year, according to a police spokesperson. Six people have been shot since last Friday.
For short-term solutions, Mayor Carter pointed to the Saint Paul Police Department’s recent increase in patrols and the creation of an investigative task force.
But Carter said his discussions for the 2020 budget, which must be approved by the end of the year, focus on long-term prevention.
“Public safety is the responsibility of us all,” Carter said. “Not just the police department.”
In August, the mayor’s 2020 budget proposal for public safety included $4.5 million increase in the annual police budget, along with an authorized strength of 630 officers. The city’s police chief has said this represents a reduction in authorized strength; the mayor, meanwhile, argues that at full capacity, the department will have the largest force in St. Paul history.
Any supplemental budget proposal, Mayor Carter said on Monday, may depend on the results of a trash referendum in November that has major financial implications for the city’s bottom line.