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Walz says state will continue boosting law enforcement in Twin Cities

Last month, the public safety department announced more state patrol troopers would patrol the Twin Cities following a chaotic Fourth of July weekend in Minneapolis that left several injured.

Courtesy of Minnesota State Patrol
Courtesy of Minnesota State Patrol
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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota’s state public safety agency will maintain an increased presence in the Twin Cities metropolitan area as it continues to help local agencies tackle an increase in crime. But Gov. Tim Walz said the increased costs will not be sustainable without eventual action from the state Legislature.

Joined by Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and other law officials in downtown Minneapolis, Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday, Aug. 11, told reporters the State Patrol will continue its boosted presence in the Twin Cities. State resources, he said, have led to hundreds of arrests, warrants and illegal guns off the streets.

“Our response that has now been ongoing throughout this year especially is totally unprecedented — the number of folks who are involved in this, the number of missions that we're partaking in, and the results that they're getting,” the governor said.

Last month, the public safety department announced more state patrol troopers would patrol the Twin Cities following a chaotic Fourth of July weekend in Minneapolis that left several injured. Violent crime was not the only concern —20 additional state troopers and air patrols were tasked with tackling street racing in the metro, something Walz said they have successfully curbed.

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Legislators passed a bill this spring to provide $500 million in bonus checks to workers who had to report to their jobs during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and put themselves at greater risk than those who were able to work remotely.

State public safety officials said they already devoted additional resources to Minneapolis and the surrounding area this spring in response to concerns about violent crime. Minneapolis reported a near-record 96 homicides in 2021, and in early 2021 a rash of carjackings had started to spread to the suburbs. St. Paul also saw a record 38 homicides last year.

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Federal and state authorities have already announced they would commit greater resources to combat violent crime and lawlessness in the Twin Cities metro. U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger in April said he was shifting Minnesota federal prosecutors’ focus to tackling violent crimes like carjackings, of which Minneapolis saw more than 600 in 2021.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state’s criminal investigative agency, said it has devoted more resources to the Twin Cities in the spring. The 12 investigators and one analyst will continue to work on gun crimes and homicides in Minneapolis-St. Paul and the surrounding area until at least September, the BCA said last month.

Walz said the “unprecedented” boost in state support for cities is not something that can continue indefinitely. The patrol has diverted troopers typically dedicated to enforcement on state highways and officers are building up overtime hours, told reporters.

“Our message today is that this high presence that you've seen, will continue into the future here. But we need partners, especially with the legislature to make sure they're funding the very issues that we're talking about,” he said.

The 2022 Minnesota legislative session ended without any major deals between the Democratic-Farmer-Labor controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate on how to spend the state’s historic $9.3 billion budget surplus. Public safety spending was a top priority for both parties, but lawmakers could not reach an agreement by the end of the session in May.

Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, negotiated for several weeks to return for a special session , but failed to reach an agreement.

Republicans in the Legislature and Walz’s GOP challenger in the upcoming election, Scott Jensen, have criticized Walz for not doing enough to address the increase in violent crime over the past two years.

Jensen has said the Legislature should wait to reconvene during its regular session in January, after the general election, before it makes any decisions on how to use the surplus.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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