Governor Walz asks top law enforcement commissioners to tackle violent juvenile crime
More than 50 chiefs of police, county sheriffs and county prosecutors from across the 7-county metro area held a juvenile crime summit after Governor Tim Walz asked his top two law enforcement commissioners to get involved with the growing concern over a rise in violent juvenile crime.
Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell and Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson hosted the summit at the DOC headquarters June 1.
Jacobson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the first meeting was to share thoughts and ideas and to build a foundation of policy strategies moving forward.
“I think the Governor wanted us to just start the discussion and come up with some action steps,” said Jacobson. “I think what the Governor wanted us to do is to make sure we’re paying attention to some of the biggest issues we’re facing — especially in the metro area.”
Jacobson said one of the emerging “watchwords” from the summit was “accountability” for juveniles who commit violent crimes, but with a healthy mix of helping the kids and their families.
“How do we work together to piece together a good strategy to help these children and their families so there are better outcomes?” said Jacobson. “Because right now, it’s a scary situation.”
Washington County Attorney Kevin Magnuson attended the summit. He told KSTP he agreed with Jacobson that accountability is key to turning things around for juveniles involved in violent crimes.
“We have to get a handle on auto thefts by juveniles. We just have to make that a priority. And, we have to address firearms problems,” said Magnuson.
Magnuson also said there has to be better communication across county lines between law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts because that component does not exist right now because the suspects are juveniles.
“Often, we’re picking up the phone calling people saying ‘Hey, can you look up a record because we don’t have the ability do it ourselves,’” said Magnuson. “And, we’re under tremendous pressure to charge in a small amount of time. And, that information is vital.”
Commissioner Jacobson said there likely will be more summits in the future, but no date for the next meeting has yet been determined.