No funding for ShotSpotter in Mayor Carter's 'community-first' budget proposal

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter presents his budget proposal to the city council.

Following a recent wave of bloodshed in St. Paul, many residents are demanding more be done to make the city safe.

Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Melvin Carter presented his budget plan, which includes his ideas for improving public safety and community connections. Among his plans include creating safe public spaces, putting a social worker in the libraries, targeting youth jobs and offering free after school programs.  

Carter also wants to streamline some things within the police department, such as online reporting, so that officer don’t always need to respond to less urgent needs. In addition, there is an effort to improve DNA testing.

What the budget plan does not include – and is a major source of disagreement between the police chief and the mayor – is funding for a ShotSpotter tool. The chief fought hard for the tool that can map out where shots come from in real time, but the mayor said there wasn't enough data to support that it reduces gun violence. 

“I appreciate Mayor Carter taking a long-term approach to addressing the root causes of gun violence in our city, and I look forward to reviewing the details of the plan once I receive a copy," read a statement from St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. "While I’m disappointed that we won’t be able to employ ShotSpotter in our efforts to address the immediate crisis our neighborhoods are facing on a daily basis, I will not let it deter us from working every day to protect the peace and maintain public safety through hard work, innovation, collaboration and trusted service with respect."

The mayor says he reviewed his plan with the chief and others and that his plan does help with the gun violence crisis.

“Every single thing in our proposal helps with the immediate crisis,” said Mayor Carter. “It’s a misnomer to think where we want to be in 20 years is the opposite direction of where we need to be tomorrow.”

No action was taken at the meeting, but the mayor did have support from many councilmembers. Council member Dai Thao, however, did not seem to support the approach, believing that the ShotSpotter tool was in fact a necessity. 

In regards to additional police, the mayor said a few officers wasn’t going to make a difference, so he did not ask for more cops. Mayor Carter said many of these ideas came from the community after three community meetings he had designed to address the recent wave of violence.