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RELEASE: Rep. Novotny, House Republicans Unveil “Safety in Our Cities” Legislation

Monday, February 17, 2020

ST. PAUL – In response to a rise in violent crime at Metro Transit and in many parts of the Twin Cities, Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River, and House Republicans rolled out a package of proposals at the Capitol on Monday aimed at improving public safety in Minnesota communities.

Rep. Novotny is chief author of a proposal included in the legislative package that increases funding at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for gang and drug trafficking prevention efforts.

“Over the course of my 33-year career in law enforcement, I have seen the impact that gang activity and drug trafficking have on our communities,” said Novotny. “Fortunately, Minnesota has some of the best law enforcement professionals anywhere in the country, but to help them do their jobs effectively, we must make sure that they have the resources they need to keep our communities safe. This package of proposals will help ensure Minnesotans are safe no matter where they live.”

2019 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 authored by Rep. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, 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 authored by Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Buffalo, 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 by Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River, to boost funding for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for gang and drug trafficking prevention efforts.
  • A bill by Rep. Jon Koznick, R-Lakeville, that would increase enforcement of fare evasion, increase sworn officers for Metro Transit police, and install interactive cameras on light rail platforms.
  • A bill by Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, that would prohibit cities from disarming officers in good standing.