Walz highlights need for new State Patrol headquarters

Walz highlights need for new State Patrol headquarters

Walz highlights need for new State Patrol headquarters

While state lawmakers remain on Easter break until Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz put one of his top priorities in a bonding bill in the spotlight on Monday.

One piece of Gov. Tim Walz’s $982 million infrastructure plan he announced in January is funding for a new headquarters for the Minnesota State Patrol.

His proposal would allocate $22 million to buy land and design a new building for the agency, which Walz and other state officials say would help streamline operations and improve the State Patrol’s ability to provide public safety services. It’s something the governor even mentioned in his State of the State address last month.

“It would bring all of these agencies [together], whether it’s commercial vehicles, whether it’s the crash investigations, whether it’s the crime units. Bring all these investigators, all the work into a central location. Bring that energy of getting the work done together,” the governor said a news conference outside the State Patrol’s East Metro Headquarters in Oakdale.

The Minnesota State Patrol currently has operations scattered at six different facilities in the metro area.

Walz said the project is his No. 1 ask of the Legislature, and he believes there is strong bipartisan support for it. He toured the Oakdale facility on Monday and saw firsthand how cramped it is.

“There’s a counter this big in there where evidence is processed,” he said, holding his hands about shoulder-width apart. “There were four investigators in one room with a firearm that’s being processed on the desk.”

State Patrol Col. Matt Langer, whose last day with the State Patrol is Tuesday, added that the State Patrol could better serve the public in a bigger centralized location that hasn’t been chosen yet.

“The pre-design report has a matrix that the vendor helped us establish to use really good objective criteria to determine where it should be,” Langer said, standing alongside Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “So we want to be centrally located in the metro. But we have a lot of needs, 15 to 20 acres.”

“This is the time to do it,” Langer added. “It’s overdue and it’s really a great project.”

Langer added that it would change the way the State Patrol can do business in everything from how it interacts with the public to how it handles evidence and the spaces it can provide for employees, such as nursing rooms.

He also noted that the current facilities in the east and west metro areas have been the exact same throughout his entire 25-year career with the agency.

Minnesota lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Tuesday and will try to pass a bonding bill with nearly a billion dollars in building projects before the session ends in May.