Law enforcement officials call for action after crime bill falters in Legislature

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A $450 million crime bill stalled at the Capitol after the Minnesota Legislature adjourned in May without approving a compromise bill between two separate crime measures introduced in the House and Senate.

Among other things, the Senate bill touted stronger prison sentences and more money for recruitment and retention of law enforcement officers, while the House version focused more on crime prevention measures and programs for at-risk juveniles.

RELATED: House DFL, Senate GOP offer differing plans to fight crime

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS there are “good things in both the House and Senate” but expressed a sense of urgency to get a compromise bill passed with the recent rise in violent crimes.

“I suspect there will be a special session only because neither side — House and Senate, Democrat or Republican — can afford to let this crisis go on,” Fletcher said.

“And we actually need to have people on the street — boots on the ground — to arrest these people,” Fletcher added. “And until we get to that point where we are actually arresting them, the next step of prosecution really isn’t in play.”

Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, is the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

Latz said he likes all of the crime prevention measures in the House bill because “that has been underfunded for years and, unfortunately, we’re reaping some of the results of not focusing enough on crime prevention.”

Latz said any compromise deal that comes out of the conference committee has to include provisions that rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“Because that’s how you solve crimes. People in the community who know who did it, who know where the evidence is, they’ve got to be willing to share that information with the police officers that are investigating,” Latz said. “And if they don’t trust the cops, then they are not going to share that as much.”

If a crime bill gets passed this summer during a special legislative session, Latz said it would immediately put $200 million into these issues and another $250 million at the start of the next budget biennial in July 2023.

If a crime bill isn’t passed this summer, then all of these issues will wait until the next regularly scheduled legislative session in January 2023.