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In the backdrop of COVID-19, economic uncertainty and general social upheaval, Minnesota is experiencing an unacceptable rise in crime. We need a proven plan to keep people safe.

The plan I will introduce in the upcoming legislative session is a Public Safety Innovation Package built upon a $100 million investment in scaling up community crime prevention services, bolstering community confidence in law enforcement, and providing targeted funding for local law enforcement innovation.

During the first week of session I plan to hold hearings to gather input. I invite everyone to participate.

Let's unpack the components of this proposal:

  • First, community crime prevention services are in this bill because they work. Research in the American Sociological Review shows that in a city of 100,000, each five new nonprofit community organizations lead to a 6% drop in the homicide rate, a 5% reduction in the violent crime rate and a 3.5% reduction in the property crime rate. This is why we need permanent investments to create more nonprofits dedicated to violence prevention. It will save lives.
  • Second, community confidence in law enforcement is a part of this bill because it is vital to ensuring that police are able to gather intelligence from residents. Another study in the American Sociological Review found that 911 calls fell following a highly publicized case of police misconduct. Taking steps to restore community confidence by increasing police transparency and accountability positively affects public safety by restoring the best line of intelligence any law enforcement agency has, a vigilant citizenry.
  • Lastly, funding law enforcement foot patrol and investigatory best practices work. Every major law enforcement and academic study reveals what we already know: Crime is less likely in the immediate vicinity of law enforcement, and increasing clearance rates allows law enforcement to solve crimes and help prevent criminals from reoffending.

In recent years, my Republican colleagues in the Legislature have been the biggest barrier to public safety innovation, and have instead resorted to fearmongering, political point scoring and calls to incarcerate our way out of our current situation. This is not a plan to provide public safety.

In fact, the Republican Senate has proposed cutting millions in state funding for local law enforcement, ignored major funding requests brought by victim organizations, and refused to adequately fund drug use treatment and prevention programs. Instead, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have worked tirelessly to redistribute our shared resources to the wealthiest individuals and biggest corporations in the form of tax cuts at the expense of making the investments needed to sustain a core function of government.

The Republican approach has left Minnesota flat-footed and unprepared to address the ongoing public safety challenges.

All Minnesotans deserve to be safe in their communities. When crime is trending upward in our own backyards, we need to solve the problem and address its root causes. I am bringing this package forward because Minnesota needs an innovative, nonpartisan, research-based solution that meets the scale of the problem.

This $100 million proposal is based on the belief that by working together, we can innovate our way out of problems instead of accepting political gridlock on public safety issues as the new normal.

Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, is a member of the Minnesota House.