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Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen says public safety bill holds criminals accountable

It focuses on all aspects of the criminal justice system and courts.

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Bill Ingebrigtsen

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Senate passed a comprehensive public safety bill on Monday, April 25 that provides funding to hold criminals accountable and keep Minnesota's communities safe, according to those who supported the bill.

It focuses on all aspects of the criminal justice system and courts, including youth intervention, criminal laws, sentencing guidelines, police, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, prisons and probation.

State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, who is a former Douglas County sheriff, supported the measure.

"I have always been committed to keeping all Minnesotans safe and holding criminals accountable," Ingebrigtsen said in a news release. "Frankly, it's frustrating to see the spike in crime across the state. There is no excuse for it. Minnesota needs to get tough on crime. We need to fund and support our law enforcement institutions, we need to show criminals they will pay for the terrible choices they make, and we need to let judges and prosecutors know that if they go light on crime, the public will find out."

The public safety bill includes several provisions authored by Ingebrigtsen:

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  • SF 4134  Police Officer Skills Training Provider Grants: Enhance nine Minnesota State Colleges and Universities police officer​ skills training and provider programs for technological needs, including body cameras, fleet training vehicles, and a de-escalation simulation program.
  • SF 3368  Youth Intervention Program Increase: Funding increase to keep youth out of crime.
  • SF 2890  Ramsey County Gunfire Detection: Authorizes Ramsey County to procure a system of identifying gunfire to be placed in high crime areas in the county.
  • SF 2889  Ramsey County Sheriff Crime Prevention and Air Patrol Grant: Create a crime prevention grant for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office to coordinate with other metro area law enforcement agencies; appropriate money for this metro area partnership to pay for the use of the State Patrol's Air Patrol to address rising violent crime

Support for law enforcement

The bill includes provisions to address the central issues currently facing Minnesota's law enforcement officers: recruitment, retention, education and training, and equipment.

The bill includes two provisions already passed by the Senate this year. The first is funding for the Department of Public Safety to develop and conduct an advertising campaign to elevate the law enforcement profession .

The campaign will highlight law enforcement as an honorable career, and the good work officers do every day to keep communities safe. The idea was brought forward by law enforcement professionals who are dealing with more openings than applicants across the state.

The second provision contains funding for the award-winning Pathways to Policing Program to support non-traditional candidates for law enforcement who already have at least an associate's degree in another discipline.

To retain current law enforcement officers, the bill provides $3,000 in one-time bonuses to all licensed police officers and an additional incentive of $7,000 to officers nearing retirement who choose to continue serving.

Holding criminals accountable for their crimes 

Minnesota is experiencing a dangerous increase in violent crime because criminals are not being held accountable for their crimes, bill supporters said. To address this, the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee adopted several "tough on crime" provisions into the comprehensive public safety bill that increase penalties for repeat offenders, carjackers, and violent criminals using firearms.

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There is also enhanced support for the Violent Crime Enforcement Teams, which have successfully targeted drugs and guns across the state.

Providing accountability and transparency  

To respond to growing instances of violent criminals becoming repeat offenders and frequent decisions by prosecutors and judges to go easy on criminals, this bill takes several steps to improve transparency for the decisions that lead to early releases and failures to charge to the fullest extent possible.

This bill includes limited funding for nonprofits. There have been recent stories where newly founded nonprofits cannot prove what their funding is going toward, according to supporters of the bill.

In the past two years, there have been reports about violence interrupters tasked to work with law enforcement to de-escalate situations by nonprofits that harmed other individuals.

Youth Intervention Programs, a proven system that requires a local match with accountability to the Department of Public Safety and legislature, receives an additional $3 million in the bill.

The bill supports Minnesota's criminal justice system with a $50 million increase in funding for public defenders. Bill supporters said recent reports of a strike by public defenders indicate the entire defense process is at risk.

Most people charged with a crime use a public defender and are entitled to a fair and speedy trial with adequate representation for those with low incomes, bill supporters said. Historically, public defender salaries have not kept up with the salaries of prosecutors, requiring a nearly 8% increase in funding for public defenders last year and additional investment this year for new employees to lower caseloads.

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