By Rep. Jordan Rasmusson
The Legislature is working on proposals to address public safety in the wake of last summer’s riots in the Twin Cities and ahead of the upcoming trial for Derek Chauvin.
This issue is about protecting Minnesotans and providing our law enforcement agencies with the resources to do so. Citizens deserve for politics to be set aside on this one, so the Legislature can move forward on a plan before the Chauvin trial takes place.
I remain committed to ensuring law enforcement has the resources needed to keep Minnesotans safe and prevent a repeat of last summer’s events. From my conversations with local law enforcement, there is a reasonable expectation that local officers will be called on as reinforcements if needed. If called, our local law enforcement will respond, and they deserve to be compensated for their services. Without this funding, the funding burden could fall on local law enforcement budgets and local taxpayers.
Now it is time for Democrats to decide if they want to pursue a bipartisan approach or continue to allow “defund the police” activists to continue hamstringing these efforts. Twice in one week, Democrats tried and failed to get $35 million in public safety emergency funding through the House floor. This SAFE Account bill (HF445) most recently failed on a 62-72 vote, the first time in years that a priority bill for the majority and/or the governor has failed on the House floor.
The majority continues to insist on controversial policy provisions that caused the bill to lose support of Minnesota’s top three law enforcement groups and blocked Republican attempts to offer a meaningful compromise that could have earned significant bipartisan support.
Various media outlets have shed light on this issue. The Star Tribune’s editorial board, which is not known for supporting Republican initiatives, recently penned a piece entitled “State House Republicans have the right idea on police security funding.”
The proposal supported by myself and my Republican colleagues would gain wide, bipartisan support. Gov. Tim Walz even said on WCCO radio this week he would sign the House Republican SAFE Account proposal if it reached his desk. Earlier in that same interview, he described it as a “workable solution.”
It is time to put aside petty politics and move forward with a proposal that will support our local law enforcement as they prepare to manage a challenging public safety situation.
We should continue to work on fostering trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Bad actors in law enforcement should face accountability. Funding to provide security to allow this criminal justice process to proceed is the first step.