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Rep. McDonald, House Republicans unveil “Safety in Our Cities” legislation

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

ST. PAUL – Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, and House Republicans on Monday rolled out a package of proposals aimed at improving public safety in Minnesota communities in response to a rise in violent crime on Metro Transit vehicles and in many parts of the Twin Cities.

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

“Public safety is government’s top responsibility and the statistics show we need to do better,” McDonald said. “When my son and his two friends were with me at the Capitol, they wanted to ride the light rail downtown and I just didn’t feel comfortable with that. What an unfortunate and sad state of affairs we have come to with our safety in the Twin Cities. We need to do everything we can to get back to safe cities again. Minnesotans deserve better so it is time to acknowledge the facts and demand improvement. The package of bills we put forward will help us do that.”

Last year saw an all-time high in serious crimes committed on Metro Transit light rail and 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. 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 that would require cities with regional or statewide sports and entertainment facilities to have adequate law enforcement, or risk losing Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state.
  • A bill 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 to boost funding for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for gang and drug trafficking efforts.
  • A bill that would increase enforcement of fare evasion, increase sworn officers for Metro Transit police, and install interactive cameras on light rail platforms.
  • A bill that would prohibit cities from disarming officers in good standing.


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