‘We’re not serious about crime’: Former sheriff’s deputy wants greater accountability for judges

"Police need a mandate, just like an elected official," he said.

Dave Zimmer of the Center of the American Experiment talks with Liz Collin. (Alpha News)

A former captain in the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office thinks it’ll take “years” for police staffing levels to return to normal in the Minneapolis area.

Dave Zimmer, who recently retired from law enforcement and now works as a criminal justice and public safety policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, sat down with Alpha News reporter Liz Collin this week to discuss Twin Cities policing and crime.

Zimmer said it’s no secret that criminals have been “emboldened” over the past two years, but he also noted how police officers have become increasingly “reactive” instead of “proactive,” which could feasibly be blamed on chronic understaffing and a perceived lack of support from local leaders.

“Police need a mandate, just like an elected official,” he said. “They need to have that empowerment from the people, and from their bosses, and from the elected officials that oversee them, so that they know it’s okay to go out and be proactive and do actual police work, not just take a call on the radio and respond.”

In his capacity as an American Experiment policy fellow, Zimmer hopes to help give police officers that “mandate,” as well as hold judges accountable for unnecessarily downgrading sentences for dangerous criminals.

According to Zimmer, judges across the state of Minnesota downgrade sentences around 13% of the time. In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, that number rises to 20% and 25%, respectively.

“We’re not serious about crime right now,” he said.