Walz: State will keep police reinforcements in Minneapolis 'as long as it's necessary'

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he will keep reinforcements in Minneapolis indefinitely to help the city's depleted police department curb violent crime, a move his Republican challenger said came too late.

"We’ve never seen this number of them used before nor this length of time, but they are making a difference," Walz said of the increased number of Minnesota State Patrol troopers and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents in the city. He said Minnesotans "have every right to be angry" about violent crime and should expect crime statistics to trend down the rest of this year.

Walz and his top public safety officials spoke Thursday at a light rail station outside U.S. Bank Stadium, two stops from where a 15-year-old was killed in a shooting on a light rail platform last week. Prosecutors have charged another teen for the killing.

On recent weekends, the state has sent 20 extra troopers into Minneapolis along with BCA agents to address street racing, gang activity, and chase carjacking suspects from the air using the State Patrol's helicopters. Law enforcement officials have said they're seizing guns and making arrests for outstanding warrants.

Minneapolis Police data show that some violent crime has plateaued. Homicides are flat from a year ago, while gunshot wound victims are down 11% and shooting calls have decreased 9%, according to data that MPD officials shared with City Council this week.

But violent crime of all kinds remains well above Minneapolis's long-run averages before the COVID-19 pandemic. Carjackings have continued to increase this year. So too has gunfire from fully automatic weapons, police say.

Some guns are being used in multiple crimes. MPD has traced a single gun, referred to internally as Gun 4041, to three homicides and seven other crimes since 2020. Police haven't found it.

The surge in city, suburban, and state resources into high-crime areas has temporarily reduced crime in those parts of the city, according to MPD heat maps.

No one from Minneapolis Police spoke at Thursday's news conference, though Walz said he speaks with Mayor Jacob Frey regularly. The surge in state reinforcements came at Frey's request, Walz has said.

"We’re not going anywhere, but we also know there needs to be that long-term plan," Walz said. "We’re triaging in the short term, and then that long-term plan of what does public safety look like in the long run?"

Walz is running for re-election this November. His Republican challenger, Scott Jensen, said the governor was late to act as crime surged in 2020 and 2021.

"He should not be saying, 'OK, what do the political winds tell me is OK with my base?'" Jensen said in an interview after Walz's announcement. "He should be doing whatever it takes to secure safety – and I don’t think he did that."  

Jensen said he was fine with increasing the State Patrol's presence in Minneapolis in the short term. He said he would seek to broker arrangements between Minneapolis and suburban agencies in the long run, while adding funding for police officers.

Additional police funding has been a source of contention between Walz and Jensen. The governor and the divided state Legislature failed to approve any additional public safety spending during their spring legislative session.

Walz has blasted Jensen for telling Republican lawmakers to "hold the line" against an $8 billion end-of-session deal that was meant to include some public safety funding. The House and Senate never agreed on what should be in the final funding package, with Republicans seeking significant money for police hiring and retention bonuses, while Democrats wanted to spend on community nonviolence groups.

"I would ask my opponent to rescind telling the Legislature not to do the deal on public safety and to come back and fund the public safety money that we need to keep this mission going," Walz said.

In turn, Jensen dared Walz to call a special session.

"If Gov. Walz wants to, he can call a special session right now and have the House and Senate come back in," Jensen said. "And he can say, 'OK, this is what I want you to hammer out. I don’t think he has the support of his own Democratic House, and I think that’s why he’s hesitant to."