St. Paul Police Chief says federal violent crime initiative will help ‘significantly’

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After 33 years of public service with the St. Paul Police Department (SPPD), Police Chief Todd Axtell is set to retire next month.

Chief Axtell told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the recently announced crackdown on violent criminals by U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, Andy Luger will help local law enforcement by keeping violent criminals behind bars longer.

Axtell said that’s because federal sentences are usually more punitive than state convictions.

“It has a significant impact, and it’s also going to have a significant impact on the people who are committing these crimes,” Axtell said. “Because word spreads fast when they start to pick up federal offenses where there’s significant jail time for committing violent crimes, including carjackings in our community, it will have a great impact, and I am looking forward to it.”

Axtell noted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) would provide much welcomed investigative expertise in hunting down and arresting people who illegally possess guns and those who are violent and active in the trafficking of illegal weapons.

“That’s why it’s so important that we have that zero-tolerance approach if you are a felon who commits a dangerous crime using a gun or a stolen gun or a gun you shouldn’t be carrying,” Axtell said. “We have to make sure there are significant consequences for those people.”

Axtell told KSTP he would like to see the next chief come from within SPPD.

“It has to be somebody who has the trust and the confidence of the people they serve in the community. Understanding that we are not ‘the’ police department — we are ‘your’ police department,” said Axtell.

Axtell said he intends to start a consulting firm that will work with law enforcement and private businesses.