Walz: Legislature needs to spend more to fight crime

A man speaks at a podium as two uniformed officers look on
Gov. Tim Walz made a pitch for more money for law enforcement during a visit to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension headquarters in St. Paul.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Amid rising crime that Republicans are using as a campaign issue against him, Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday that state lawmakers should agree to return to the Minnesota Capitol in a special session to fund crime fighting efforts. 

On Thursday Walz highlighted the work of the Minnesota State Patrol and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to help address the current rise in crime. He said he would also like lawmakers to send surplus money to taxpayers during a special session, if he decides to call one.

“I’m still trying in every way I can to make the case to Minnesotans that it makes sense for us to come back, solve what we can solve,” Walz said. ”I can’t imagine where the opposition is to putting this money into more BCA researchers to process weapons of war off the street and protect lives of innocent Minnesotans.”

Only governors can call a special session, but they typically wait until they have an agreement with legislators on the agenda and scope of the session.

Walz has wanted a special session since May, when time ran out in the regular session without major legislation passed to spend an enormous state budget surplus. 

The State Patrol has been deploying officers in the Twin Cities for the past two weekends after a chaotic July 4 weekend where seven people were shot at Boom Island and people shot fireworks at each other in another Minneapolis neighborhood. 

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Over the weekend of July 8-10, troopers made 632 traffic stops, issued 515 citations and made 39 arrests, including 20 for DWI.

One of the requests Walz had for surplus money was $13.9 million to buy another helicopter for the State Patrol.

State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said the patrol’s helicopter is a frequently requested asset that delivers results.

“You can’t drive fast enough to outrun the copter,” Harrington said.

Walz said a potential special legislative session could provide the needed funding for the State Patrol to continue to help reduce gun violence, carjackings, street racing and other crimes. 

“These are the professionals asking us to do these things. If we want to keep the air assets in the air, we need to pay for that,” Walz said. “We’ve asked and we believe that there is room for another State Patrol helicopter to be in the air to increase these numbers that we get.”