Mayor Carter: Response to violence must include all of St. Paul's city government

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter vowed to renew efforts to fight gun violence after a shooting wounded two people near Allianz Field Sunday night. Carter spoke near the scene.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Shortly after an outbreak of gun violence near a busy intersection in St. Paul left two people wounded last Sunday night, Mayor Melvin Carter said he would immediately get his Cabinet together to discuss solutions to violence.

On Thursday, Carter said he’s still working on getting those key players together. But he reiterated his commitment to finding ways to augment law enforcement resources with community-based solutions to gun violence.

Carter said he's particularly interested in the public health approach to combating crime. That is, public health officials focus their resources and research on an outbreak to keep disease from spreading.

"Violence is the same way,” said Carter. “When people experience violence — when something happens in our community or when people have learned violence through their experience growing up, they're more likely to replicate that learning in their behaviors."

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Right now, Carter said he's not planning on asking the City Council for additional money for public safety programs. He added that the city still hasn't hired the nine officers approved in last year's budget.

In an interview with MPR News host Tom Crann, Carter also reflected on the strong emotions surrounding an upcoming voter referendum on trash collection in St. Paul.

Carter said while he understands people are passionate about the issue, he wants them to remain civil. Police say a man left a threatening voicemail at the mayor's office phone which included racial slurs. Carter is the city's first African-American mayor.

Some worry that if the Nov. 5 referendum is rejected, St. Paul residents could be hit with a large property tax hike to help the city pay garbage haulers the remainder of their contracts.

Carter said the current centralized collection plan is paying off.

"We have significantly reduced emissions from our trash trucks,” said Carter. “We've significantly reduced the wear and tear on our streets — as we know we've seen far too many potholes. We've significantly reduced the truck traffic through our neighborhoods where our children are playing."

Critics of the city's garbage collection arrangement say it's too expensive and doesn't provide incentives for residents to produce less trash.

A majority of the City Council as well as the St. Paul Democratic Party have endorsed a "yes" vote on the referendum to continue the new system. Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that even if St. Paul voters reject organized trash collection, the city will have to hold up its end of a five-year contract with haulers.

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