Minnesota has been experiencing abnormally high rates of violent crime in recent years and it’s time to get serious about this issue.
Bipartisan support was expressed last fall and summer for taking action to make our state safer, which was good to see. On the other hand, we are now in the 11th week of the legislative session and we have zero progress to report on this issue. In fact, some legislators seem to be focusing more on the rights of the offenders and reducing sentences than advocating for victims.
The good news is House and Senate Republicans have teamed up on a public safety package that would help officers do their jobs, ensure state laws are enforced, and hold criminals accountable. This Safe & Sound Minnesota plan is designed to confront the threat of violent and repeat criminals, strengthen police, and improve training for law enforcement, and hold judges and prosecutors accountable with public data and information. Overall, the package includes 17 different bills from 15 different Republican authors across the state.
Provisions to confront the criminal threat would include new laws to add a new crime of carjacking to state statute, increase penalties for fleeing police in a motor vehicle, align fentanyl to the same weight thresholds and penalties as heroin, and increase sentences for those convicted with at least two prior crimes of violence.
To address crimes of gun violence, the package specifically increases the penalty for transferring a firearm to an ineligible person and requires a court to ensure someone who has been ordered to give up their firearms has indeed done so.
Republicans continue supporting our state’s law enforcement officers with robust recruitment, training, and retention plans. The Safe & Sound Minnesota plan provides $1 million for Pathway to Policing, the award-winning program that brings new recruits into public safety from other careers.
Tough laws and great officers can only do so much, however. The Safe & Sound Minnesota plan also puts in place transparency and accountability measures for the state’s courts. New data reporting would help legislators and the public understand how many felony-level offenses go uncharged, as well as a database by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission for the public to conduct research about judges and their decisions to follow criminal sentences created by the legislature.
To address concerns that violent, repeat offenders are too often released, there is a new mandatory minimum sentence for dangerous criminals who commit crimes with a firearm. Finally, the plan would also make who posts bail payments public data. Recent scrutiny on non-profits bailing out violent criminals shows Minnesotans are at risk when these non-profits aren’t held accountable for their decisions.
Public safety is our government’s first responsibility to citizens. This Safe & Sound Minnesota package would help fulfill that obligation and I look forward to continuing this discussion.
In the meantime, I want to say how grateful I am for all that our local law enforcement officers do to protect us. I remain in frequent contact with them to gain feedback as we work on common-sense solutions.
Stay tuned as this subject develops. In the meantime, please stay in touch and let me know how I can help.