Police leaders in the Twin Cities area have acknowledged that violent crime is the number one issue for many residents and that much more needs to be done to tackle it.
Alpha News interviewed four participants in a recent Violent Crime Summit jointly hosted by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and Eckberg Lammers Law Enforcement Training and Consulting.
Ramsey County Undersheriff Mike Martin explained that the purpose of the Summit was to give police officers, prosecutors, and lawmakers a forum to come up with solutions to Minnesota’s crime epidemic.
“We’ve committed too much discussion to reforming the police and not enough to how we support the police, how we train them, how we improve recruitment, and at the same time hold police accountable,” he said. “We can’t ignore the importance of supporting the police if we’re going to recruit young folks that become part of this profession. We have to quit demeaning the police.”
In the eyes of Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, public sentiment supporting the police has “dramatically improved” since 2021, as the fallout from the George Floyd killing died down and crime levels became increasingly intolerable.
“Our job is to make sure that everybody else can have a smile on their face, and when they have a smile on their face, we’re doing our job,” he added. “It’s when they’re afraid to go out, when they’re nervous, and they’re looking over their shoulder, that we’ve failed.”
The police leaders were in virtual agreement that carjacking is one of the most important crimes to tackle since it’s a “terrifying” and “violent” experience that targets random people going about their lives.
They also agreed that one of the keys to reducing violent crime long term is figuring out how to fix a “broken” system that does a poor job at holding juveniles accountable for their crimes and fails to give them adequate support.
“The public schools are failing these kids. Their families are failing these kids. These neighborhoods are failing these kids. These big cities are failing these kids. And the finger is always pointed at the police, and none of these other arms of government are really ever held accountable,” said Mark Ross, president of the St. Paul Police Federation.
Hence it is incumbent on Minnesota legislators to help support the police as well, added Lt. Lori Ellering, president of Law Enforcement Labor Services, since the laws they pass affect day-to-day police work.
“We don’t care Democrat or Republican, what we care about is people who prioritize public safety,” she said. “And we want people who want to put our communities first, our citizens first, our victims first, and we want to work together with all members of the Legislature.”