Former sheriff slams Walz for ‘apathetic’ response to record homicides

Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said victims of crime won't find Gov. Tim Walz's response "comforting."

Left: Gov. Tim Walz; Right: Former Sheriff Rich Stanek

In 1995, Minneapolis saw a record-setting 97 homicides. Operating by the strict definition of a homicide as an event where one person intentionally kills another, there were 97 homicides in the city last year.

The final homicide of 2021 occurred just hours before the new year as a 15-year-old boy was gunned down in north Minneapolis. No arrests have been made. The shooters are believed to have fired from a vehicle.

Some homicides, like the killing of Winston Smith in June, were justified and non-criminal. Technicalities aside, most share a concern about the high number of murders in 2021.

“Nobody wanted this day to come, but we knew all year long that Minneapolis was going to reach its all-time record,” former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said in a press release from the Foundation for Minnesota’s Future, where he sits on the board. “How many innocent souls have to be lost before elected leaders will start listening and take preemptive action? The lives lost were sons, daughters, fathers, mothers. Some infants. This isn’t a partisan issue, this is a public safety issue that affects the community.”

Stanek criticized Gov. Tim Walz for his “apathetic” tone on crime in the Twin Cities. St. Paul broke its all-time homicide record in 2021.

“Leadership comes from the top. In a recent interview, the governor had an apathetic answer on how to deal with crime spikes stating, ‘local policing is a local issue,’ not exactly an answer victims of crimes will find comforting. The time is now. We need more from our leaders at the state and local level,” he said.

Meanwhile, some counts suggest the Minneapolis body count could be even higher than 97. Crime Watch Minneapolis, for example, notes that there are multiple suspicious death investigations that could be ruled homicides.