Minneapolis Council member: State Troopers will bolster Minneapolis Police

Boom Island Park
The view of the Mississippi River from Boom Island Park in northeast Minneapolis. Seven people were shot and wounded in the park on July 4 as people gathered for the holiday.
Peter Cox | MPR News

Seven people were hospitalized after a Fourth of July shooting at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis. It was a busy night for Minneapolis police, who received more than 1,300 911 calls — which included crowds shooting fireworks at people and condos.

In a press conference, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said police were stretched thin from the sheer number of calls.

“This is conduct that should not be acceptable in any city, the kind of violence, the recklessness and in some cases, idiotic behavior that we saw, shouldn't be tolerated. And let me be clear, it won't be tolerated,” he said.

Minneapolis City Council member Michael Rainville says Governor Walz is sending in state troopers, as confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, to help Minneapolis with policing in the interim. The police department has about 600 officers, down from 800.

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Rainville joined host Cathy Wurzer to talk more.

The following interview highlights have been edited for length and clarity a full transcript will be available within 24 hours of broadcast.

What was the fourth of July night like in your neighborhood?

I live a block and a half away from Boom Island Park so I remember gunshots. When I went down there, I saw that the ambulances and fire and police were being shot at, they were having rockets shot at them by that mob of individuals who are entirely lawless. They didn't care about the people who got shot. They didn't care about the neighbors who got a bullet hole in their house, my neighbor. They just don't care about society.

And the mayor says the police played what it essentially was a game of ‘Whack-a-Mole’ going from scene to scene, and leaders in the Minneapolis Police Department say that the gatherings were not planned, which made them tougher to contain. Why didn't the police force have a plan for the holiday?

Well, I think the lesson learned here is that regardless if there's a Fourth of July fireworks display on the river, there are still going to be people. And that lesson was learned in a very hard way. And you combine that with a lack of resources that not only our police department has and the park board police and the I'm going to call it unwillingness for other jurisdictions to help us with our public safety. The truth is, Minneapolis is the economic engine of the state of Minnesota. It's the economic engine of the Upper Midwest, and we need help. I am not afraid to ask for the help for my ward or for the city that I live in.

Why do you think other jurisdictions are not willing to step up to help?

Well, I think because it's an election year and people at other levels of government who are up for reelection are hesitant to speak seen as supporters of public safety. I think this whole movement of the police-are-the-villains is still alive and well.

Now, you are asking for National Guard help. Is that right?

Yes, I did. I asked the mayor to request the governor to send in the National Guard and/or to have them on standby for these large events.

So Councilmember Rainville, have you had a chance to talk to the Mayor about why he's not calling in the National Guard at this point?

Yes, I did. I had an hour long conversation with him today and it's my understanding that the Governor will be sending in 20 state troopers, and that's a more appropriate use of state funding. I'm very grateful for that. I thank the Governor for doing that and not only the mayor but some of the other councilmembers who have more experience than I do have explained the role of the National Guard. And I'm comfortable with the National Guard not coming and I'm very, very comfortable that the Governor realizes we need more help than we've been currently getting and I look forward to that. I also look forward to speaking with the Governor, I've sent my cell phone over. So I look forward to his call.

Do you think 20 state troopers will be enough?

It's a great start but we need help from all the jurisdictions around us, especially the county too. I look forward to having those discussions with them. And as well as help on our behavioral Crisis Response Teams, the emotional support workers — we had a stronger relationship with the county in the past and I look forward to strengthening that relationship. And I also look forward to get our canopy system is working, we need to strengthen that.

What is the canopy system again, please?

A canopy is a behavioral health specialist who answer calls through the 911 system instead of other police departments.

So we now have the Aquatennial coming up shortly here in Minneapolis, and several residents of downtown Minneapolis have signed a petition asking the mayor to provide enough security for the Aquatennial events or cancel Aquatennial. What's the plan for that event?

Well, I haven't read the plan yet. I've asked to see a copy. But in the past, there's always been a tremendous safety plan, and is a different circumstance than what happened on the Fourth of July, but I sympathize with the residents. Mill District and the Guthrie area are also in my ward and the videos are shocking. I myself was over there on Friday night from 10 p.m. at night to 11:30 p.m. standing in Gold Medal Park. I saw the lawlessness that happens there on a regular basis. This, as you call them, a mob, knows that up to this point there hasn't been ramifications. They haven't been held accountable for the behavior. And that that has to end.

The mayor says this is on everyone, urging folks to make sure they're holding friends and family accountable. Do you think that's there's a work to be done in that area? And do you think that's enough?

Parents have to be responsible for the children and what we're seeing are children, I'm going to say ages 14, 15 all the way up to their 20s who haven't had parental guidance, and what's going to have to happen as a government step in and if we become the parents, it's going to start with some severe repercussions for these kids. They're going to have to learn the hard way about breaking the law about terrorizing people in homes, shooting people carrying guns, that is not acceptable behavior. And we're not going to let that happen in the city of Minneapolis.

So bottom line here, the news coming out of our conversation is 20 state troopers will be sent into Minneapolis to bolster Minneapolis in the police force.

Yes, and I can't say enough about the current officers in Minneapolis. They are working day and night. They're working so much the chief has had to implement limitations on their hours, because they're there. They're tired, they're working themselves on the ground. We are so handicapped by the lack of resources for patrol officers and the result of that is a lawlessness that cannot be tolerated.

And are you confident that Minneapolis will be able to hire more police officers?

Absolutely. We are very, very close to having our Commissioner of Public Safety of the council just approved a new salary range the establishment of that Department of Public Safety. We're probably a month away from a new Chief of Police. We've learned our lessons, the city has made past mistakes. The police department has made past mistakes. We've all learned it's time to move forward and revitalize the social economic engine that the Third Ward and the City of Minneapolis is for the state and the entire region.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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