Time to approve ‘Safety in Our Cities’ legislation

By Peggy Bennett

State Representative, District 27A

Public safety is a key function of both state and local governments. Whether you live in Albert Lea or anywhere else in the State of Minnesota, you deserve to feel — and be — safe.

Unfortunately, if you watch or read the news in the Twin Cities lately, you know that violent crime is on the rise, especially on public transportation.

2019 saw an all-time high in serious crimes committed on Metro Transit Light Rail. Not long ago our House transportation committee heard from light rail operators who told of the nonsense that they have seen first-hand on trains: rape, defecation, sexual activity, rampant drug use, and destruction of the interior of the trains themselves. And let’s not forget the murders that have taken place not only on the train, but on the platform as well.

Recent reports also found that two-thirds of neighborhoods in Minneapolis saw an increase in overall crime in 2019, and that St. Paul also saw a doubling in the homicide rate in 2019, much of it connected to gang violence.

In the not too distant past, we have watched as a number of progressive policies have been implemented that limit police activity and the elimination of rules, which has resulted in crime increases. Clearly these initiatives are not working.

In response, House Republicans rolled out a package of proposals at the Capitol recently aimed at improving public safety in Minnesota communities, a “Safety In Our Cities” plan.

The goal is to identify and address many of the issues that are driving crime in the Twin Cities area. These new proposals recognized the need for additional officers and better resources that will allow law enforcement to battle the problems they see on the Light Rail and in our cities.

Over the years, I’ve talked to many people from southern Minnesota who’ve said they like parking near the Mall of America or Fort Snelling and taking the train downtown to see a play or watch a Twins or Vikings game. It’s a convenient way for people to avoid large crowds and the parking headaches that can occur in Minneapolis.

None of these people are going to want to ride the Light Rail if we don’t find ways to eliminate the crime.

We simply can’t sit back and do nothing. Minnesotans should feel safe when they leave their homes and not feel like they need to constantly look over their shoulder. With destructive crime on the rise in the Twin Cities, Republicans and Democrats must come together and find a workable solution that addresses problems such as gang and Light Rail violence.