ST. PAUL – State Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, said House Republicans have issued a package of bills aimed at improving public safety amid soaring violent crime rates in Minnesota.
Generally, Swedzinski said the package focuses on three key areas: crime prevention and accountability for criminals; police recruitment and retention; and holding the criminal justice system accountable.
“Our government’s top responsibility is to keep its citizens safe, and our state has been failing miserably in that regard,” Swedzinski said. “Failed leadership and a criminal justice system that all too often goes soft on perpetrators have only emboldened violent criminals. This is heightening concerns for Minnesotans who, at the very least, deserve to feel safe on the streets of our cities.”
Swedzinski said a sharp rise in carjacking rates may be the most glaring example of why action is needed. Minneapolis police reported 655 carjackings last year alone – with only 91 related arrests. A measure in the House Republican public safety plan makes carjacking a new criminal offense with increasing penalties for the level of violence.
Swedzinski said Minnesota also must ensure local law enforcement agencies have enough officers on patrol, and that they have the resources they need to do their jobs. House Republicans are offering legislation to bolster law enforcement recruitment numerous ways, including providing education reimbursements and Pathways to Policing program funding.
“The demonization of police in our state has contributed to a record number of peace officers leaving their posts and fewer new recruits joining the force,” Swedzinski said. “The anti-police rhetoric needs to stop, and we need to change the narrative toward making sure our officers have the resources and support they need to keep us safe.”
Swedzinski also said data shows that judges statewide are departing from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines at a troubling rate and issuing lesser sentences for more violent criminals. House Republicans have authored several bills on this subject to increase transparency and to help us better understand why our criminal justice system continues to allow violent criminals to slip through the cracks.