Walz pledges 'increased presence' of state law enforcement in Minneapolis

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says the state will provide additional law enforcement help to Minneapolis after a chaotic Fourth of July that saw eight people shot and a roving group of people who launched fireworks at apartments near downtown.

Walz, making his first public comments since Monday's mayhem, called the violence "unacceptable." Violent crime in Minneapolis has been at elevated levels since 2020.

"It’s not as if we’re going to go in and displace the Minneapolis Police. They have primary jurisdiction," Walz told reporters at the state Capitol. "We’ll be redoubling our high visibility efforts with the city of Minneapolis over the next few months. We’ll continue to provide as much assistance as we can."

Crime is a potent issue in Walz's re-election this fall. His presumptive Republican opponent, Dr. Scott Jensen, blasted Walz in a Wednesday social media post.

"What in the world are you thinking? You’ve got levers to pull," Jensen said. "You could be making things happen. Minnesotans are getting so damn tired of you freezing up."

Hours later, Walz credited coordination between the state and city with a modest reduction in violent crime.

The governor said he had honored recent requests from the Minneapolis Police Department for air support to catch carjackers, State Patrol resources to curb illegal street racing, and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension analysts to track guns and gang activity.

The coordination is responsible for more than 170 arrests and 109 gun confiscations in recent weeks, Walz said.

Violent crime in Minneapolis has cooled somewhat this year. There have been 44 homicides compared with 55 at this point a year ago, 265 gunshot wound victims versus 316 last year, and 4,989 shots fired calls compared with 5,329 by this date in 2021, city records indicate.

But all three statistics remain much higher than their pre-2020 averages. At this point in the three previous years, there had been 35 homicides, 224 gunshot victims, and 3,753 calls for shots fired.

"We have to continue to tackle that," Walz said.

The governor said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had not asked for the Minnesota National Guard, which does not have arrest powers and takes time to deploy. A spokeswoman for Frey said the mayor is not seeking assistance from the National Guard.

Council Member Michael Rainville, who represents most of downtown, said he understood why the National Guard was not the answer. But the governor should send in more State Patrol resources, he said.

"This is absolutely crazy," Rainville said in a phone interview. "We need the help."