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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Lisa Demuth (R)

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Legislative update

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Dear Neighbor, 

Preparation continues in advance of a special session that is expected to start next week so that we may set a new state budget ahead of the June 30 end of the fiscal year. Efforts also are ongoing regarding other subjects that warrant immediate attention. This includes a series of proposals House Republicans are assembling to improve public safety and curb the recent spike in murders, carjackings, and other crime in the Twin Cities metro area. 

In 2020, we saw violent crime spike 21% in Minneapolis and 25% in Saint Paul, and as of May, Minneapolis has seen more than double the number of murders compared to a year ago. In recent weeks, there have been multiple high-profile examples of innocent bystanders being killed in incidents involving criminals who should have been in prison. A man was killed in downtown Minneapolis by an individual who had their jail sentence stayed by a judge. The St. Thomas student killed in downtown Minneapolis last month was shot by an individual who had pleaded down a prior gun charge, and was awaiting trial for a similar shooting

While the uptick in violent crime has been a source of general concern over the last year, the last straw for me was seeing numerous children fall victim to senseless acts. This has served as extra motivation for me to become heavily involved in seeking solutions at the Capitol and yesterday I participated in a press conference to share with the public some proposals the House minority has developed.

Our focus isn't just on addressing the recent spike, but includes improving police-community relations and making sure that law enforcement and the communities they serve can work hand-in-hand to stop crime and build trust. I personally am working to establish pilot programs across the state for the Community Out Post (COP) House program, which is seeing success in the St. Cloud area by building police-community relations. 

The COP House is a proven program that has been a game-changer for St. Cloud, bringing law enforcement and the community closer together and reducing crime in the process. We need those types of long-term solutions, and that's work I'm committed to continuing in the months ahead with law enforcement, non-profits, and community leaders. 

As for on-the-ground efforts to combat violent crime, we know Minneapolis Police is critically understaffed and the city has not shown a willingness to provide the necessary resources to uphold public safety. Furthermore, judges and prosecutors are also failing to hold criminals accountable with plea deals and stayed sentences, ultimately putting criminals back on the streets with tragic consequences. 

The big question we need to ask ourselves is, “What can we do to make our streets – especially the Twin Cities – safer tonight?” House Republicans listed a series of proposals aimed at exactly that, including: 

  • Calling on Gov. Walz to bring in the State Patrol to assist in high-risk areas of Minneapolis. Former Governors Carlson and Pawlenty in 1996 and 2003 made similar moves to curb a spike in violence. 
  • Calling on Minneapolis to bolster their police force — which is currently down 200+ officers compared to previous years. Even when Minneapolis had more than 800 officers, Minneapolis was still behind on an officers per-capita basis compared to other similarly-sized cities. Minneapolis has more than $80 million in funding available through the federal relief dollars that could be used to bolster public safety. 
  • Expanded use of ShotSpotter technology so resources can be deployed to the most high-risk areas. 
  • Utilize federal partnerships with various Department of Justice and FBI Task Forces aimed at reducing violent crime. 
  • Expanded use of the Group Violence Intervention program, which is being utilized in Minneapolis to help those at most risk of being victims of gang violence. 

Minnesotans deserve to feel safe and we need to address the rising violent crime in our cities immediately. I will continue working hard on solutions and welcome any other ideas people may have to improve our situation. This is not a political issue, it’s a human issue. It’s time we set partisan games aside and do what’s right for Minnesotans during the upcoming special session.

In the meantime, here is a KNSI clip from Tuesday with me talking in more about these multi-faceted efforts to make our streets safer. As always, your input is welcome.



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