To the Editor,
Public safety is a major issue for Minnesotans, with ever-increasing concerns about crime in our state. House Republicans recently unveiled a package of bills aimed at making our streets safer.
I support provisions House Republicans are offering in this package to hold criminals accountable, strengthen our criminal justice system, and elevate efforts to recruit police officers and address the shortage cities in Minnesota are facing.
Soaring carjacking rates may be the poster child for why the Legislature must act to make our state safer. Minneapolis police reported 655 carjackings last year alone – with only 91 related arrests.
Criminals must be held accountable in Minnesota. For example, House Republicans are offering a bill which makes carjacking a new criminal offense with increasing penalties for the level of violence. This offense would be added to the violent crimes statutes, which prohibit offenders from purchasing or possessing a firearm, and enhances penalties for subsequent offenses.
We also must ensure our local law enforcement agencies have enough officers, and that they have the resources they need to keep us safe. The demonization and denigration of police in our state – primarily in the Twin Cities – has resulted in a record number of peace officers applying for disability, peace officers leaving the profession in mass, and fewer new recruits joining the force.
The effects of the anti-police rhetoric are rippling throughout the law enforcement profession in the suburbs and across Greater Minnesota. It is imperative we Minnesotans collectively change the anti-policing narrative to one of supporting police. House Republicans are offering legislation to bolster our law enforcement recruiting in numerous ways, including providing education reimbursement and Pathways to Policing program funding.
And, once officers apprehend violent criminals, we need a court system that is willing to levy appropriate sentences. All too often, the courts in our state are contributing to the increase in crime by releasing criminals back into the community to commit more crimes. The courts in Hennepin and Ramsey counties alone stayed the sentences of offenders facing a presumptive commit to prison 39 percent of the time.
To the dismay of many, the governor and his appointees to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission have put forward a controversial proposal that would result in reduced prison sentences for repeat offenders. The change would mean judges would no longer be able to take into consideration whether the offender committed the crime while in custody, on probation or on supervised release.
Data shows that judges statewide are departing from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines at a troubling rate, but it is unclear why. House Republicans have authored several bills on this subject to increase transparency and to help us better understand why our criminal justice system continues to allow violent criminals to slip through the cracks.
I will continue advocating for numerous solutions to reverse the violent crime trend, keep dangerous offenders off the streets, and hold the criminal justice system accountable. During the 2022 legislative session, Republicans will continue to push for greater public safety for Minnesotans and people that visit our state.
By Rep. Jordan Rasmusson