Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey crashed a Monday press conference called by House Republicans who unveiled a package of bills aimed at addressing an increase in violent crime in the Twin Cities.
At one point during the press conference, Frey could be heard shouting “not true” when House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis rejected a request for more police officers from their police chiefs.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has called for 400 news officers by 2025 and Frey responded to the request by budgeting for 14 new officers in his 2020 budget proposal. Frey’s suggested increase was opposed by city council members and the parties eventually agreed to add an extra recruit class in 2020, which still does not allow for raising the current cap of 888 sworn officers.
After Monday’s press conference, Frey took to the podium to respond to the Republican proposal.
“It’s just fraught with fallacies and misinformation what they just presented,” he claimed. “This press conference was filled with misinformation and lack of fact.”
Frey was then recorded following Rep. Matt Grossell (R-Clearbrook) through the halls of the Capitol and accused him of lying during the press conference.
“You got to have transparency. You can’t lie to people. The people deserve to hear the truth so next time do that for me,” Frey said to Grossell while patting him on the back.
“Stop putting your community in danger,” Grossell, a former law enforcement officer, replied. “Stop tying the hands of your law enforcement. Talk to your officers on the ground.”
Rep. Matt Grossell and Mpls Mayor Jacob Frey continue conversation at Capitol. Frey tells Grossell Republicans need to stick to facts; Grossell tells Frey to stop lying pic.twitter.com/BHvklJr2sV
— John Croman (@JohnCroman) February 17, 2020
The Star Tribune editorial board ran an article Monday morning in response to the “crime uptick in downtown Minneapolis,” which claimed that robberies, burglaries, and assaults increased by 70 percent in 2019 in Downtown East.
“There is reason to be alarmed by a recent crime increase in Minneapolis Downtown East – similar to problems that have long plagued downtown’s western entertainment district. Police reported last week that criminal activity has risen dramatically in the area around U.S. Bank Stadium, a part of town that attracts millions of visitors,” said the editorial board. “In addition, thousands more people live and work in the area compared to even 10 years ago. Much of the crime increase likely reflects the higher number of people in the area. But the situation demands leadership and action.”
Republican lawmakers are also concerned with an increase in crime on Metro Transit’s light rail system and heard from two operators earlier this month who said they no longer feel safe at work, The Minnesota Sun reported.
What’s in the proposal?
Republicans are calling the package of bills unveiled Monday the “Safety in Our Cities” legislation, which includes five different policy proposals.
“There’s been an alarming increase in violent crime on the light rail and in parts of the Twin Cities that is causing concern for residents, workers who commute there each day, and Minnesotans who travel to the cities for sporting events and concerts,” said Daudt. “Minnesotans deserve to feel safe in their communities no matter where they are – that’s why our caucus is bringing forward bills to help law enforcement combat gang violence, drug trafficking, and violent crime.”
The legislation would increase penalties for gang members who commit crimes using a firearm, boost funding for gang and drug trafficking efforts, and require cities to increase the law enforcement presence at sports and entertainment facilities at the risk of losing state aid.
Other bills included in the package call for increasing enforcement of fare evasion on Metro Transit, increase the number of sworn officers for Metro Transit police, and install interactive cameras on light rail platforms. A final proposal would prohibit cities from disarming officers in good standing.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, joined Republicans for the press conference to express his support for the legislation.
“Rising crime puts a strain on our officers – these bills would aid law enforcement and prosecutors in responding to the drivers of crime, and starts an important discussion on how the Legislature can support local law enforcement and push cities to prioritize public safety,” he said.
View the full press conference below:
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