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House GOP unveils public safety plan to curb violence

Citing a rise in violence across the metro, the proposal involves deploying the State Patrol, hiring more police officers in Minneapolis, and violence intervention.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Citing a significant spike in murders, carjackings, and overall violent crime across the metro Minnesota House Republicans are unveiling a series of proposals designed to make the state more safe for its residents.

At a press conference at the capitol Tuesday morning, GOP lawmakers cited statistics saying violent crime jumped 21% in Minneapolis and 25% in St. Paul during 2020. They pointed to examples like the recent deaths of young children in Minneapolis who were caught in the crossfire, and the fatal shooting death of a St. Thomas University student who was celebrating his graduation while downtown.

"Communities have been devastated over the past several weeks by a rise in murders and other senseless violence, including the loss of innocent children," said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. "We know Minneapolis Police are critically understaffed, but the city has refused to step up to provide the resources necessary to keep communities safe. Judges and prosecutors are also failing to hold criminals accountable with plea deals and stayed sentences, and it's hurting public safety by putting criminals back on the streets with tragic consequences."

The plan released by House Republicans Tuesday includes:

  • Calling on Gov. Walz to activate the State Patrol to assist in high-risk areas of Minneapolis. GOP leaders noted that Republican governors Tim Pawlenty and Arne Carlson both did so to curb violence during their time in office.
  • Pushing the city of Minneapolis to add police officers to a force which is currently down a reported 200 street cops following the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests and unrest. House Republicans say Minneapolis has more than $80 million in funding available through the federal relief dollars that could be used to bolster public safety.
  • A call to expand use of ShotSpotter technology so resources can be more quickly deployed to the most high-risk areas.
  • Capitalize on federal partnerships with the FBI and various Department of Justice task forces aimed at reducing violent crime.
  • Expand use of the Group Violence Intervention Program, which is being used in Minneapolis with young people most at risk of being victims to gang violence.
  • Establish pilot programs across the state for the Community Out Post (COP) House Program, which has seen success in St. Cloud under the watch of Police Chief Blair Anderson.

"Communities deserve to feel safe, and we need action to address the rising violent crime in our cities," said Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, Republican Lead on the House Public Safety Committee in a released statement. "We've been bringing forward ideas since the beginning of last year to combat crime and make sure that law enforcement has the resources needed to keep communities safe. We hope that Gov. Walz and city leaders will step up and show some leadership to address this crisis."

When asked about the GOP proposals at an afternoon COVID vaccination news conference, Walz agreed there's work to be done on the violent crime front, but said simply redeploying the Minnesota State Patrol is "simplistic." The governor said a more comprehensive plan is needed, and that he would be happy to work with lawmakers on it.

Gov. Walz and Democrats have been pursuing a police reform package in the wake of Floyd's death, and are urging swift action during the upcoming special session.

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