The November election has muddled Minnesota’s crime politics.
Republican campaigns have been very focused on the issue, which follows years of rising violent crime and frequent – and sometimes sensational – media coverage.
It was the Democrats who held the table in November, however.
The legislative session, which many had expected to focus on tougher criminal penalties and plenty of money for police agencies, looks a lot different, with criminal justice reformers back on the offensive. They will seek to rein in rogue police and look more at prevention and at the root causes of crime, such as extreme poverty, untreated mental illness and addiction.
At a recent press conference, House Speaker Melissa Hortmann, R-NFL-Brooklyn Park, cited Rep. Cedric Frazier, R-NFL-New Hope, as a leader on this issue for the Democrats.
In the last session, he authored the House Public Safety Innovation Act worth $330 million, but Republicans and Democrats were unable to reconcile their differences by the end of the session. Republicans are confident they will control the legislature in the midterm elections Mocked On Frazier’s suggestion last year, saying he would give money to unproven programs and grow state government.
The bill includes funding to recruit police officers and fund programs that Democrats say are more effective in reducing crime in the long run than traditional policing. Frazier said they wouldn’t stray too far from that scheme this session.
Last week, Frazier introduced his priority bill, HF25which includes funding for:
- Violent crime investigation teams to reduce A large number of unsolved crimes.
- Grants for community violence prevention and intervention programs dealing with victim services, prison readmission, homelessness assistance, restorative justice, violence cessation, and juvenile diversion.
- Grants to help law enforcement improve responses to people experiencing mental health crises and improve criminal investigations. Fraser’s bill includes $10 million to upgrade technology to investigate crimes or process evidence, and $15 million annually to maintain or expand crisis response teams — the social workers or mental health providers who respond to mental health calls.
- Increase funding in 2024 and 2025 for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Use of Force Investigation Unit.
Crime rates have dropped despite the police force’s smaller size in the past year, Frazier said, citing replacement programs. Police officers will always be needed, he said, but more focus on prevention and the root causes of crime would pay off bigger and be more cost effective.
Senate Majority Leader Carrie Dzidic, DFL-Minneapolis, said she expects widespread support for a bill like Fraser’s in the DFL Senate.
Hortmann, a sponsor of the Frazier bill, said lawmakers will introduce early legislation that would give Attorney General Keith Ellison more money to help county prosecutors handle cases. Ellison was narrowly re-elected in November after Republican Jim Schultz called him soft on crime, even though the attorney general has little say in prosecuting most crimes. County and city attorneys prosecute most cases, although the district attorney can assist them upon request.
Hortmann said Ellison has a successful record of helping to prosecute high-profile crimes in greater Minnesota, especially in sparsely populated areas.
“I imagine this funding will move very quickly,” she said.
The state’s criminal arrest office also needs more resources to process evidence, Hortmann said.
She said Democrats would also push for marijuana legalization, but that it was “a very big and complex issue.”
“It is very important that the State of Minnesota right some of the wrongs that have been done against our residents because of our prohibition policy,” Hortmann said.
Alex Hassell, a lobbyist for the League of Minnesota Cities, said legalizing cannabis is a priority for the group.
“It’s about trying to find a balance — having a strong state regulatory system while maintaining local control,” she said.
Rep. Emma Greenman, of the Minneapolis Democratic League, said restoring voting rights to people on parole or probation would be part of the election bill.
Lawmakers can also take action on:
- the Clean slate law The proposed last hearing, which would facilitate the process of expunging the criminal record for eligible persons.
- Monitor repair. Minnesota has the fifth highest rate in the country for people on probation, and a Bipartisan group He began studying reforms in 2021. The rate of blacks on criminal probation was nearly five times higher than the rate of whites in 2019; The rate for Native Americans was more than nine times higher, and the rate was 1.7 times higher for Hispanics.
- Retrospective control ceiling. Oversight for most crimes Limited to five years, but not retroactively.
- Bail reform, such as ending cash bail for nonviolent offences, or examining bail and the possibility of re-offending. Frazier said this bill needs more work.
- Additional employees of the State Police Licensing Board, which is is nearing the end From a three-year process to enacting new codes of conduct and licensing for police officers.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Police Chiefs Association has other priorities, and despite the defeat of their GOP allies last year, the police lobby will still wield influence in the Capitol.
Jeff Potts, executive director of the Chiefs of Police Group, said their priorities include addressing interrelated challenges: statewide recruiting and retention challenges, and the “unsustainable situation.” hobblesIn police officers who retire early due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Local government officials are concerned financial consequences of the increase in PTSD-related retirements and workers’ compensation claims.
“We believe that through the requirements of mental health services and wellness programmes, a large part of these disabilities can be avoided,” he said.
Potts said they also hope to work closely with lawmakers to tackle violent crime.
“We’ve heard that many of the candidates are campaigning about keeping their communities safe, so we’re eager to work closely with the House, Senate and governor to develop effective public policy that will reduce violent crime and keep all Minnesotans safe,” he said.
Police chiefs legislative agenda Includes:
- Money for bonuses and scholarship programs for higher education to help recruit and retain new officers, and legislation allowing the licensing of part-time officers to small agencies.
- Requiring district attorneys to report when they decide not to charge felony-level crimes. The police chiefs said: “This is in response to an increase in large-scale violent crime at the hands of dangerous criminals who should have been in prison but were able to commit additional crimes against the public.”
- Funding of joint multidisciplinary response programs or integrated social workers.
- Mandate training for legislators before they can pass any use-of-force reforms, so they can “better understand the situations in which officers find themselves on a daily basis.”
- Allowing police officers to terminate their service without the ability to challenge the termination if it is based on “disloyalty, willful or willful dishonesty, or such other unethical or illegal conduct deemed sufficient to jeopardize their credibility in court testimony.”
Frazier said he agreed with the need to collect data on prosecutors’ indictments, but wanted more than the police, which he described as an effort to gather “opposition research” for political campaigns. Instead, it also wants to collect data on the materials on which charging decisions are based – such as iIncident reports and charge forms submitted by officers – which would give a fuller picture. He said the aim of the data collection is to “address the inequalities that lead to disparities”.
Frazier said he’s going to pick up the police bill for PTSD this year, and work it out A bill has been discussed Last year, it required police officers and firefighters to get treatment in order to receive workers’ compensation or apply for disability pensions.