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RELEASE: Rep. Grossell, House Republicans unveil "Safety in our Cities" Legislation

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


ST. PAUL, MN—In response to a rise in violent crime on Metro Transit vehicles and in many parts of the Twin Cities, Representative Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, and House Republicans rolled out a package of proposals at the Capitol on Monday aimed at improving public safety in Minnesota communities. Taken together, the bills target many of the issues driving crime in the Metro area, including gang and drug trafficking activity, as well as the need for additional officers and tools for law enforcement to combat crime on the Light Rail and in communities. 

“Our cities and the light rail are facing an alarming increase in crime and Minnesotans who travel to the cities for work, sporting events, and concerts,” said Rep. Grossell. “Minnesotans deserve to feel safe in communities throughout our state. This is why my bill, which passed the House unanimously in 2018, to prevent local politicians from disarming officers in good standing was included. We need to make sure our law enforcement offices are properly staffed and those officers have the proper resources to do their jobs.”

House Republicans were joined at Monday’s press conference by Lt. Bob Kroll, President of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, who highlighted the need for more officers and resources in Minneapolis.

“Rising crime puts a strain on our officers—these bills would aid law enforcement and prosecutors in responding to the drivers of crime, and starts an important discussion on how the legislature can support local law enforcement and push cities to prioritize public safety,” said Lt. Kroll.   

The Star Tribune recently reported that two-thirds of neighborhoods in Minneapolis saw an increase in overall crime in 2019—including a 70 percent spike in the Minneapolis Downtown East neighborhood. 2019 saw an all-time high in serious crimes committed on Metro Transit Light Rail, and St. Paul saw a doubling in the homicide rate in 2019, much of it connected to gang violence. In addition, Minnesota’s Violence Crime Enforcement Teams saw major increases in the amounts of meth, heroin, and cocaine compared to 2018—much of it being trafficked by gangs and produced and smuggled into the United States by Mexican drug cartels.  

Proposals announced Monday by House Republicans include:

  • A bill authored by Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Buffalo, to boost penalties for gang members who use firearms in commission of a crime. Currently, prosecutors are not pursuing gun charges against criminals who commit crimes using guns because the penalty level is not high enough.
  • A bill by Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River, to boost funding for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for gang and drug trafficking efforts.
  • A bill authored by Rep. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, that would require cities with regional or statewide sports and entertainment facilities to have adequate law enforcement near those venues, or risk losing Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state.
  • A bill by Rep. Jon Koznick, R-Lakeville, that would increase enforcement of fare evasion, increase sworn officers for Metro Transit police, and install interactive cameras on light rail platforms.
  • A bill by Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, that would prohibit cities from disarming officers in good standing.