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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL)

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House DFL announces new $100 million public safety plan based on proven solutions

Monday, January 24, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, House DFLers announced their initial public safety budget proposal totaling $100 million worth of permanent, ongoing investments in community safety, local policing, tools to strengthen crime investigations, and more to address the rise in crime on the minds of Minnesotans. The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee will hold public hearings about the proposal during the first week of the 2022 legislative session, which begins Monday, Jan. 31.

“House DFLers are delivering a comprehensive package with necessary funding, innovative tools, and thoughtful collaboration with local mayors, police chiefs, and prosecutors to help enhance safety in communities across the state,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul), chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee. “While our Republican colleagues are advancing political slogans instead of proven solutions, Democrats are making significant investments toward addressing the root problems causing increases in violence, resources to help solve crimes, and solutions to help ensure law enforcement in our state can maintain the standards of excellence Minnesotans deserve.”

“In the aftermath of COVID, we are seeing a national rise in crime after two decades of decline. I authored this bill because I think the only way we're going to beat back this national crime wave is through innovation,” said Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL – New Hope), the committee vice chair. “Blaming criminal justice partners, fear-mongering against certain Minnesotans, or fighting the governor like the GOP has done, doesn't help the people of Minnesota fight this national crime wave. This moment requires that we come together and step up our game and our investments to respond to what's happening in our communities. Bringing this bill to the table is our caucus’ way of showing that the legislature is ready to do whatever it takes to make sure all Minnesotans feel safe.” Frazier first previewed the proposal in a Jan. 13 Star Tribune op-ed.

The proposal includes $40 million toward Innovation in Community Safety Grants, available to community nonprofit organizations to implement a targeted, community-centered response to violence. Grants may be used to fund juvenile diversion efforts, community violence interruption, restorative justice programs, community-based mental health and social service centers, victim services, and more.

“As someone who has dedicated my career to public safety and seeking justice for victims, I know that for the criminal justice system to work, it is vitally important that people have trust in that system,” said Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL – Shoreview). “The investments in this package will encourage collaboration between community members and local law enforcement while helping to both reduce crime and rebuild the vital trust that is necessary to deliver the justice our communities expect.”

“In my work as a prosecutor outside the Legislature, I have seen that an effective response to crime requires strong police-community relations and skilled investigations,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – St. Paul). “Our bill provides local governments with more than $40 million to fund community policing, investigate more cases, and solve more crimes. With its broad and balanced approach, this plan will help keep our communities safer.”

The legislation includes $22 million toward Local Community Policing Grants, which will enable more officers to build relationships with neighbors in areas with disproportionately elevated levels of crime. The funding will also support partnerships with community groups for crisis response and expand co-responder teams.

“All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities — no matter where we live or what we look like — and House DFLers are focused on addressing our public safety challenges,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “We are focused on innovative, proven solutions that fund our law enforcement and invest in community-led crime prevention efforts. We will continue to work in partnership with Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, rank and file officers, prosecutors, community advocates, and victims to ensure Minnesota has a public safety system that protects everyone.”

To help deliver justice in an expeditious manner, $22 million toward Crime Investigation Grants in the budget can be used to hire and retain investigatory personnel and train them to analyze violent crime, specifically regarding the use of intelligence information of criminal networks, including gangs and geographic areas. The purchase of evidence processing technology and equipment and resources to victims and their families are also eligible uses of these grants. The proposal also includes $2.5 million to help law enforcement agencies purchase body-worn cameras, while including guardrails to prohibit altering, erasing, or destroying any recording, as well as transparency requirements.

“House DFL lawmakers are partnering with mayors, city councils, police departments, and prosecutors to keep people safe as we introduce proven policies that attack the root of the problem,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “We have work to do to build a public safety system that protects everyone, and part of that important work is addressing racial disparities in our criminal justice system.”

To help strengthen excellence within law enforcement, DFLers are proposing an alternative licensure task force within the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board. The panel will be responsible for developing strategies to increase recruitment of new officers, increase the diversity and professional backgrounds among officers, promote education and training in the community policing model, and maintain high educational standards. The budget also funds four investigators at the POST Board to perform compliance reviews and investigate alleged code-of-conduct investigations among peace officers.

Additionally, to address the recent increase in tragic deaths resulting from opioid overdoses, the proposal invests $10 million toward opiate abuse and addiction prevention and education strategies.

A fact sheet about the proposal is available here. The legislation will be officially introduced when the 2022 Legislative Session begins January 31, and the Public Safety Committee will conduct public hearings soon after.