MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota State Patrol, BCA, Metro Transit Police and other agencies will continue the stepped-up patrol surge in Minneapolis indefinitely, based in large part on the results they've seen reducing violent crimes and disrupting street racing.
"Success breeds success and we're starting to see other agencies say they will join us in these efforts," Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington told reporters Thursday afternoon.
The commissioner, Governor Walz, State Patrol Chief Matt Langer and Metropolitan Transit Police Captain Richard Raymond held a briefing at the light rail transit station across the street from U.S. Bank Stadium.
Gov. Walz said people coming to the city to attend football games and other large events should be reassured that the state is going all-out to maintain safety in Minneapolis. He noted that the saturation patrols have led to the recovery of hundreds of illegal firearms and thousands of deadly fentanyl pills.
"The expectation that crimes, especially violent crimes will be reduced, is absolutely a top priority," Walz remarked.
"This unprecedented force will remain here, and we will continue to see the results we’ve been seeing."
The governor last spring began to marshal resources to assist the Minneapolis Police Department deal with rising lawlessness. More than 200 officers have left the MPD with PTSD-related disability claims since the murder of George Floyd and the riots that ensued.
Commissioner Harrington pointed to successful major downtown events, such as the Aquatennial and the Khalid concert tied to the MLS All-Star game, as examples of safety in numbers and the power of people to help deter crime.
"I've been down here for those nights, and they've been the safest nights in our community. The safest times in our community are when we are all here together."
The Metro Transit Police Department had already increased patrols and visibility this summer. The agency intensified its efforts after a 17-year-old light rail passenger fatally shot a 15-year-old boy standing in a light rail platform Aug. 2.
"We have an increased presence on both the trains and buses, both uniform and non-uniform, sworn and non-sworn," Metro Transit Police Captain Richard Raymond explained.
One weekend alone in July the Minnesota State Patrol made 1,500 traffic stops. Col. Langer says those stops have netted weapons, and a lot of impaired drivers.
"We had a 15% increase in traffic stops. That has also yielded an increase in the number of impaired drivers that have been arrested."
The BCA, or Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, has partnered with other agencies to to place intense focus on killings, shootings and other gun-related violations. The BCA agents and partners have been able to disrupt robberies and assaults, and arrest people with outstanding felony warrants.
Gov. Walz has devoted more than $7 million for the law enforcement surge this summer. It's coming from the state's federal American Rescue Fund money. A portion of those dollars can be used at the discretion of the governor rather than being dictated line by line by the legislature.
Walz urged lawmakers to come wrap-up a deal on the Public Safety Bill so the state patrol can hire more troopers. The politically divided state legislature reached a stalemate in May on several major supplemental spending bills, including the Public Safety bill.
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