Walz tackled a range of topics, from state heating patrols, fentanyl pills moving across the state, firearms, and street racing.
He also confirmed that a growing state law enforcement presence – including the Minnesota State Patrol and the Criminal Detention Office – in the Twin Cities would remain until at least the end of the year to combat violent crime.
Officials from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the BCA, the Metro Transit Police, and the State Patrol attended the press conference with the governor.
“When it comes to crime, we need to work together to solve this problem,” Walz said. “This state, locality, county and their people — we see great help from our partners in different organizations and creative thinking.”
Here’s what state officials discussed Thursday:
John Harrington, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said Minnesota’s patrol forces had been “successful” with the Heat patrols that began in May.
According to Harrington, their primary focus was on the “more aggressive drivers”.
“An example of this would be that one day, the forces stopped a man who was like that [driving 111 mph] in 55 [mph zone]Commissioner said.
The state patrol has suspended more than 500 drivers dating back to the beginning of September. Harrington said the majority of traffic stops were related to speed and the main goal remains to continue to decrease in frequency because it is the leading cause of accidents and driver safety in the state.
State Patrol recently announced that it will extend Heat Patrols through December.
Walz noted how street racing was a phenomenon not only in Minnesota but in other states as well.
The most difficult task of dealing with street racers, Harrington said, is predicting where they will appear next.
“It’s a bit of a mole game, honestly,” Harrington said. “They show up in one parking lot, and if they see anything resembling law enforcement, they quickly get together and [law enforcement] He finds them in another parking lot.”
In August, nine people were charged with street racing in downtown Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. Crime has been one of the main focus areas of Minnesota law enforcement as its width increases.
Harrington said he hopes the message will reach not only local street runners, but others across the country.
Firearms and violent crime
Office of Criminal Arrest Director Drew Evans said many agencies continued to work as a team to address homicide, gun crime, felony warrants, and other violent crime criminal activities.
Several recently seized firearms occurred in Minneapolis. However, Harrington said the initiative is happening across the state.
Minnesota US Attorney Andrew Luger announced in May that his office would take a greater role in leading the federal crackdown on violent crime in the state. In an August update, Luger said that about 35 “perpetrators of very serious violent crimes” had been charged.
Since May, Evans said, nearly 400 felonies have been arrested, and 244 illegal firearms have been taken off the streets — including “ghost guns.”
The BCA has also entered information on more than 500 firearms into its database. According to Evans, knowledge of these firearms has led to more than 300 cases.
“That’s one-third of the cases of all the work we do in the BCA,” Evans noted.
The agency continues to retrieve automatic switches, the devices that convert a semi-automatic firearm into a fully automatic firearm.
Since the initiative began this spring, Evans said, more than 19,000 fentanyl pills have been recovered in Minnesota.
“It shows us the strong link between the fentanyl pills we take back, which are counterfeit oxycodone pills that contain fentanyl and are extremely dangerous to the individuals who use them,” Evans said.
Law enforcement agencies also find fentanyl, which is closely linked to violent crime.
Plus, a new type of fentanyl — called “rainbow fentanyl” — is making its way across the state. The drug has a sweet appearance to it.
The pills were recently taken during a search warrant in Mankato last week by the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force, according to Evans. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an alert in late August.
Evans noticed a 20% jump in the discovery of fentanyl in Minnesota BCA crime labs last year.