In order to enjoy the many freedoms we hold so dear, we need to feel and be safe in our cities, neighborhoods and homes. The health and vitality of a community and its citizens depends to a large degree on this basic need. As your representative, I consider our safety a top priority, and I feel fortunate to serve in a community that considers it a priority as well.
Public safety depends on successful partnerships between state government, local law enforcement and members of the community. This legislation session we passed the most comprehensive Public Safety bill in our state's history in order strengthen those partnerships. We added police officers on the streets, added judges on the bench, added investigators at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and cracked down on gang activity. In addition, the bill funded innovative programs to expand both the policing and the prevention of crime. The bill includes valuable crime preventing measures such as juvenile crime prevention and youth mentoring programs and expands support for domestic abuse victims. Additionally, the bill will limit repeat offenders by funding drug courts and reentry efforts.
I am confident our public safety bill will reduce crime and strengthen neighborhoods, however without the dedicated civic participation of our community members our efforts would not be as effective. Even with more highly skilled police on the streets, the first responders are usually concerned citizens looking out for their family and neighbors. I am encouraged that Coon Rapids neighborhoods are organized into more than 130 Neighborhood Watch groups. The goal of these groups is to collectively look after the neighborhood and report suspicious or criminal behavior to law enforcement. The net result is safer neighborhoods, effective law enforcement, and more connected communities.
Tuesday, August 7 marked the 24th annual National Night Out, an event that promotes public safety awareness and generates support for anti-crime programs within communities nationwide. Good food, great conversation and valuable sharing of information are all part of National Night Out. The camaraderie and sense of common purpose displayed at this annual event is an effective community-building experience. Coon Rapids has been a national leader in this effort, and last year ranked 12th in the nation for National Night Out participation in cities with a population between 50,000 and 100,000. With the buzz I've heard this year, I wouldn't be surprised if we moved into the top 10. It is clear that our community understands the value of neighborhood participation.
Keeping our streets safe and reducing crime is an on going task. This year we made great strides to improve the safety and security of Coon Rapids, but our efforts are in vain if we rest on our laurels. National Night Out reminds us of the continued commitment needed from elected officials, police officers, and community members to do their share to keep our city safe. I encourage you to stay connected to your neighbors, police, and even your state representative.
Rep. Melissa Hortman