St. Paul Police Chief Calls Rise in Gun Violence 'Public Health Crisis'

June 28, 2017 11:17 PM

While addressing the St. Paul City Council, Police Chief Todd Axtell called a significant rise in gun violence a, "public health crisis."

"As of Wednesday, the number of gunshots fired is up 61 percent, homicides are up and the number of guns recovered off the street is 286," Axtell said.


Only 11 months into the job, Axtell told council members police cannot, "arrest our way out of this problem," and urged citizens to help police whenever possible.

"I have taken very specific steps internally to address this public health crisis that we're all faced with, and it will require help beyond the police department as well," said Axtell.

RELATED: St. Paul Residents to Meet With Police Regarding Spike in Gun Violence

In an effort to put the small percentage of habitual violent gun offenders behind bars, Axtell said his department is working with federal law enforcement on investigations.

"Because, as you know, with federal prosecutions comes stiffer penalties and longer prison sentences for those people who decide to shoot guns in our city," Axtell said.

Axtell also noted that half of the city's 13 homicide victims this year were teenagers and the suspects in most of those crimes were teenaged perpetrators as well. The chief added that the summer season may see a rise in gun violence.

"Just last night alone ... we had three arrests, five shots fired incidents throughout the city and three guns were recovered," Axtell said. "This is just one night of work."

RELATED: St. Paul Police on Shooting of 2-Year-Old: 'It's Insidious'

Tuesday marked Axtell's second public appearance speaking out against the city's gun violence since the shooting of 2-year-old Chastity Vang. Vang was shot in the head and critically injured while sitting on her back porch with family. 

Axtell said no arrests have been made in the case.


Jay Kolls

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