ST. PAUL — Two Minnesota Department of Public Safety divisions have launched efforts to help combat violent crime in Minneapolis and surrounding communities. These efforts by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the Minnesota State Patrol are in response to a significant rise in gun-related crimes, carjackings and other violent crimes plaguing these communities.
“Minneapolis Mayor Frey and Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman have asked the state for assistance,” said Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. “In these dire and urgent times, we all need to work together to keep our communities safe.”
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in early April created and deployed a violent crime response team to pursue known suspects in homicides, shootings and other gun-related crimes; locate persons with felony warrants related to violent criminal activity; and disrupt the surge in carjackings, aggravated assaults, and robberies in Minneapolis and surrounding communities. By focusing on the most violent offenders, this effort will help make communities safer.
This work is underway. The BCA team is made up of specialized personnel who are temporarily diverted from other casework to lend the full weight of its analytical and investigative toolset to data-driven investigations through the summer months, absent additional funding from the state Legislature, they will return to their prior assignments in September.
The BCA has also dedicated additional and expanded forensic science services to violent crime investigations for the city of Minneapolis and surrounding communities. Those services are in the areas of DNA analysis, firearms analysis and crime scene response services. The DNA Section has logged more than 800 hours of overtime (from existing BCA funds) in the first quarter of this year to address the backlog of violent crime cases requiring DNA analysis. This effort along with some staff reassignments has helped decrease that backlog by more than 1,200 cases.
“Communities across Minnesota have indicated that addressing violent crime is a top concern,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said. “Right now, Minneapolis is seeing a significant rise in violent crime while at the same time its police department is experiencing an unprecedented shortage of officers and investigators. The BCA is bringing state resources and expertise to help these communities to meet this urgent need.”
- The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) announced that it will begin a visible patrol operation in Minneapolis to assist the Minneapolis Police Department in covering high crime areas in the city.
“The Minneapolis Police Department has requested that we help by providing high visibility patrols in designated areas in Minneapolis,” said State Patrol Chief Colonel Matt Langer. “We will provide additional patrols three days a week in areas specified by the City of Minneapolis.”
Beginning May 5, the State Patrol will assign four troopers in two squad cars to conduct high visibility patrols in designated areas of the city. State troopers will not be responding to 911 calls, but will coordinate with MPD officers on work that originates out of these patrols. The city is reimbursing the State Patrol for all expenses related to the patrols, and the effort will likely last through the summer.
The State Patrol will also continue its Highway Enforcement for Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) speed reduction program across the state. The State Patrol will also increase its emphasis in various metro communities on stopping street racing, a dangerous activity that threatens the lives of racers and any bystanders.
The work by these two DPS divisions will be in addition to their primary missions, according to Langer and Evans. However the efforts will help other law enforcement agencies slow or reduce the spread of crime in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. (Joint Powers Agreement attached.)
“It is with great appreciation that we welcome the work by the women and men of the State Patrol and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as we partner to increase safety for our residents, our businesses, and in the city’s streets,” said Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman. “It is through partnerships like this and with the help of our community members that we can most effectively help bring peace to our city. We achieve better results for our community when we share resources and information and coordinate our efforts.”
Governor Walz allocates $4 million in federal funds to combat violent crime
In addition to today’s announcement, last week, Governor Tim Walz allocated $4 million federal American Rescue Plan funds towards the state’s public safety efforts. These funds will be used by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to combat violent crime, provide air support, and support victims of crime across the state.
The BCA will receive $1 million to combat violent crime. These funds will expand the BCA’s ability to deliver investigative, analytical, and forensic support to the state’s criminal justice community. These funds will also increase current capacity for forensic firearms analysis to address an increase in evidence being submitted to the BCA from violent crimes committed across Minnesota.
Another $1 million will go towards supporting the Minnesota State Patrol’s Aviation Section as part of DPS Violent Crime Intervention initiative. This $1 million will provide additional aviation support to assist local agencies. The State Patrol Aviation Section supports ground units with searches, follows fleeing vehicles from the air, and provides real-time, specific information for suspect apprehension.
Governor Walz also allocated $2 million to help meet the unmet needs from the 2021 Survivor Support Grant program. In 2021, DPS Office of Justice Programs received $5.7 million to support victims of crime in Minnesota. These additional funds will provide direct client assistance to victims of crime, funding for transformational abuse programs, and other direct services.