St. Paul police chief on combating gun violence: 'Reassigning officers, working closer with feds'

Updated: November 07, 2019 04:42 PM

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he's "frustrated" by the rise in gun violence, but he and his officers are not giving up the fight against crimes committed with guns.

"I am moving six more officers into the homicide unit and we are working closer with federal investigators, too," said Axtell. "We have a BCA agent, as well, who is working to collect DNA samples just from gun crimes alone."

Axtell said it takes a toll on him and the officers in his department when they hear the call to respond to another shooting and another homicide.

"It gets frustrating and my heart does drop when it happens," said Axtell. "My heart drops for the community because there is a sense of uneasiness about safety and my heart drops for the officers in this department who are doing all they can to combat this problem."

Axtell said this year's homicide total (involving guns only) has "hit a record high with 24 homicides involving guns, and that is the most in the history of this department."

U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"This afternoon, and at my request, I met with St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell along with the top leaders of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to discuss the pressing gun-violence issue in St. Paul. All agencies present, including the FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals, BCA, and Ramsey County Sheriff's Office offered their full support and dedicated resources to address the problem. It was the unanimous consensus of the group that reducing violent crime requires more than just enforcement, it also requires plans for treatment and prevention. It is my belief that the joint efforts of these federal, state and local agencies and their combined expertise and resources will ensure that every available resource is brought to bear to stem the violence and protect the community. I will continue to update the public on the progress we make in this coordinated fight to protect the safety of our communities."

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Jay Kolls

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