New Minnesota public safety plan proposed Monday

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Monday, Minnesota state lawmakers unveiled a new public safety proposal.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and other DFL lawmakers claim their plan will recruit and retain police officers with strong moral character, and address a shortage of peace officers across the state.

DFL lawmakers say the proposed legislation includes financial benefits such as free tuition, a stipend for living expenses, job placement assistance, a signing bonus and a retention bonus after serving for 18 months.

The legislation also states participants must be continuously employed full-time in the state of Minnesota for six years after completing the program.

According to the proposal, applicants would also need to agree to a thorough background search, and applicants would be reviewed by a selection committee.

“Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies are experiencing dire workforce shortages, which pose a direct threat to the safety and security of our communities – not just for the Twin Cities, but for regional centers like St. Cloud and all corners of the state,” Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL-St. Cloud), who co-authored the bill, said in a statement. “With the state’s budget outlook, now is the time to invest in the next generation of peace and police officers, now is the time to fund education programs and training opportunities for law enforcement, and now is the time to ensure our local police chiefs and sheriffs have the well-trained, community connected workforce they need to keep us safe.”

The bill’s first public hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Higher Education Committee.

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Gov. Tim Walz has already unveiled his plan for public safety, and has called for spending $300 million in public safety grants, with local governments deciding how to best prevent crime in their communities.

Another $30 million would be used to help stop violent crime in the hardest-hit cities.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers have a $6 million proposal that calls for more aggressive prosecution for all offenses.

They also want to offer free college education and recruitment grants for officers.

Both Republican and DFL lawmakers have stated public safety is a priority for the 2022 legislative session.

Officials say Winkler authored the bill after consulting with the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety.