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RELEASE: DFL Lawmakers, Mayor Carter, and Law Enforcement Officials Come Together to Support Public Safety Innovation

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Saint Paul, Minn. — Today, DFL lawmakers joined Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and law enforcement officials to announce an updated package of legislation with innovative public safety solutions. The plan invests $150 million toward resources to help communities address increasing crime, hire additional personnel, and rebuild community trust with law enforcement. A fact sheet is available here.

“The biggest update to the bill is intentional, immediate investment to the communities that are struggling the most right now,” said Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL - New Hope). “This bill directly addresses the inaction on behalf of Republicans in Minnesota to invest in public safety solutions that work. We wish that more lawmakers would support proposals based on data and academic research. We’re investing in law enforcement, but we’re also investing in prevention services, social workers, and accountability measures to increase community trust.”

Rep. Frazier’s proposal targets a total of $86 million toward areas experiencing high rates of violence or rapidly increasing crime. Local Community Innovation Grants will be available for the top 20 municipalities and Tribal Nations and top 20 counties with the highest crime rate or the highest growth in the crime rate. Most eligible units of government are in Greater Minnesota. Funding can be used to invest in local policing, investigation, reentry programs, victim services, co-responder programs, juvenile diversion, and other strategies to prevent crime. Local Community Policing Grants can be used to recruit officers, increase interactions between law enforcement and community members, and use crisis response teams with social workers or mental health providers. A map of eligible recipients is attached.

“House DFLers are committed to reaching our goal of fully funding public safety in every community in every corner of the state. Minnesotans are counting on comprehensive, bold action to meet the scale of this problem,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL - Saint Paul), Chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee. “Since we announced our initial proposal in January, we’ve continued to intentionally collaborate with local elected leaders, prosecutors, and police chiefs to fund the resources they’re requesting. This proposal reflects the urgent problems our communities are working to tackle, and delivers tools that can be effective right now in urban communities, suburbs, and in Greater Minnesota while delivering important investments well into the future.”

This legislation recognizes the urgency many communities are facing as they work to improve public safety by including measures to expeditiously deliver investment to communities. Emergency Community Safety Grants and Local Co-Responder Grants can be used by local law enforcement to embed social workers, fund mobile crisis teams, or provide violence interrupters, and other innovative strategies to prevent crime.

“Many of our leaders, professional athletes, legislators, and many others such as myself would not be where we are today if it were not for some sort of crime prevention program,” said Booker T. Hodges IV, Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. “The legislature has an opportunity to increase public safety here by funding crime prevention programs and the grant administration of these programs through the Office of Justice Programs.”

With a $15 million investment in the bill, all law enforcement agencies will be able to afford a body camera and pay the high costs for data storage for every officer currently lacking one in the state. The legislation also implements guardrails to prohibit altering, erasing, or destroying any recording and other measures to ensure transparency. To strengthen officer accountability, the proposal allows cities to empower civilian oversight councils to review complaints against officers and recommend discipline. The bill also funds new investigators at the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to perform compliance reviews and investigate alleged code-of-conduct violations among peace officers.

“All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities — no matter where we live or what we look like,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “DFLers are focused on delivering both immediate and long-term solutions for our public safety challenges while working to improve transparency and accountability to build community trust. We’re bringing forward significant investments aimed at addressing the root causes that lead to increases in violence and allocating resources directly to law enforcement and community groups working on the ground to help prevent and solve crimes.”

“This Legislature has an obligation to help make our communities safe for everyone, by helping to build partnerships between community members and peace officers, and by providing law enforcement with the tools and resources they need to address our current public safety challenges,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “The House DFL is ready to do its part to support the public safety Minnesotans expect and deserve, and Senate Republicans should join us if they are serious about addressing crime.”

The bill will receive its first hearing in the House Public Safety Committee today at 1 p.m. Meeting information and other documents are available on the committee webpage. House Public Information Services will livestream the hearing.