House DFL, Senate GOP offer differing plans to fight crime

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Minnesota House Democrats and Senate Republicans share a common goal of reducing crime in the metro area and beyond, but they have vastly different plans to achieve that goal.

“If we don’t stem this tide now, you think you have a problem now with crime, you’re going to have a tidal wave of crime in the next few years,” Senator Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said before the Senate Finance Committee.

The wide-ranging senate public safety bill supported by Republicans includes tougher sentences for violent crimes and the creation of a specific “carjacking” crime. It also includes bonuses to retain and reward police officers and a public database that can be searched to see what sentences are imposed and show when they’ve been stayed or reduced.

The DFL public safety bill in the house focuses more on community policing and emergency management grants, violent crime reduction support, and a new “wellness office” to help with the mental health of first responders.

Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington testified in favor of the House bill focused more on crime prevention rather than criminal punishment.

“Most people prefer not to have their house broken into or have their car taken or have themselves assaulted rather than have police catch the bad guy later on,” Harrington testified. “They would rather just not have anything bad happen at the front end.”

The House and Senate are expected to pass their public safety bills after the Easter/Passover holiday break. Then a conference committee will need to reach a compromise by the May 23 session deadline.