Republican Jensen pitches public safety plan

A man speaks at a podium
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen speaks during a campaign event near the Capitol on June 9. Jensen rolled out a plan to deal with crime in the state.
Peter Cox | MPR News

Longer prison sentences for violent offenders, deploying the State Patrol to high crime areas and quicker deployment of the National Guard “preemptively if needed upon intelligence information” of possible unrest are elements of a public safety platform laid out Thursday by Republican candidate for governor Scott Jensen. 

The physician and former state senator who was endorsed by his party last month said DFL Gov. Tim Walz has been too timid about fighting crime.

Jensen said he’d appoint judges who would hand down longer sentences and would seek a new law with specific prison sentences for carjacking.

"We can do this Minnesota, but it all starts with one question - do you feel safer than you did four years ago?” Jensen said at a news conference near the Minnesota Capitol. “When I ask people across the state of Minnesota, whether it's in Greater Minnesota or the urban areas, do you feel safer than you did four years ago? They're saying 'no.'”

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State lawmakers deadlocked over a wide-ranging $450 million public safety plan this year. It’s among the issues that could come up in a prospective special session. Jensen said it should be the only agenda item.

“I would support a focused special session on public safety,” he said. “And in terms of the price tag, I would leave that up to the legislative leaders to figure that out.”

Walz proposed $300 million for community intervention and policing programs and has been trying to get Republican leaders to agree to a special session to pass a public safety bill and other spending bills and a tax cut.

Walz didn’t immediately respond to Jensen’s proposal, but Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin criticized it.

“Scott Jensen’s one-page plan provides zero new funding for local police departments while Gov. Walz has proposed hundreds of millions,” Martin said in a statement.

“After seeing how hard he has been trying to sink a bipartisan budget deal that would provide $450 million for public safety, it’s unsurprising that funding local police departments isn’t a priority for Scott Jensen. From opposing universal background checks to the budget deal on public safety, Scott Jensen has shown that he’s unserious about stopping crime and gun violence. ”