Sen. Gene Dornink: Law enforcement needs our support

Published 5:33 pm Friday, October 15, 2021

Friends and neighbors,

I have heard a lot of concern in our communities about rising crime across the state. In 2020, we saw violent crime surge 17% across Minnesota. That included a 58% increase in murders, a 54% increase in arson, a 20% increase in motor vehicle thefts, a 62% increase in assaults against on-duty officers, and a 55% increase in the value of the stolen property. Those numbers were released in July by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and we are on course for even higher jumps this year, in 2021.

It is hard to believe these increases until we look back on what has happened this year. Criminals feel emboldened and realize there are no consequences for their actions. A big issue in our community has been criminals stealing catalytic converters — seemingly every day. In Hayward, there has been a huge increase in catalytic converter theft and what can we do? Law enforcement works extremely hard to do what they can, but many times lack the necessary tools and manpower. The criminals realize there are no consequences to their actions, because of either catch and release or lack of law enforcement. Think of all our neighbors who must now pay to replace critical car parts. What about people on a fixed income who can’t afford this loss? When will this stop? These sharp increases in crime concern many of us, as they should. We need a rapid shift in policy and policing to better address these issues. During this last legislative session, we provided funding increases to our police departments. Curving crime starts with ensuring an equipped and well-trained police force but that’s not the only thing we can do. Leaders across the state are failing to address their communities’ cries for help. We cannot let it continue.

As I reflect on how law enforcement was thought of and treated earlier in my life, I see a sharp contrast to today. We appreciated their service and sacrifice while honoring their profession. I recently took some of my grandsons out for our first responders Community Night and by the end of the night, they all wanted to be policemen. It was a great night getting to know all those who serve and protect. It gave me memories of what things used to be like when officers were admired and appreciated by nearly everyone in our State. Unfortunately, special interest groups, media, and even members of the Minnesota Democratic party have tainted people’s perceptions of “all” police officers even when the majority are truly dedicated servants of the people. This has led to a dramatic decrease in new recruits. What happens if we no longer attract the best and brightest? I will continue supporting and respecting our law enforcement. I implore you to do the same and next time you see a community member in uniform, thank them. They are our first line of defense against this rising crime. We cannot curve it without them.

Some leaders in our state are proposing new gun laws, alternatives to policing (defund police and hire social workers), and lighter sentences for criminals as solutions to rising crime. Unfortunately, the data is clear: none of this will work. Chicago is a great example of these failed policies. They have done all these things and have become the most violent city in the U.S. New gun laws will only affect law-abiding Minnesotans. Violent crimes committed with a gun are almost entirely done with already illegal weapons. I’d like to see our existing laws enforced; not new laws enacted to target gun owners. Criminologists have found that contrary to the idea that less police is better, proactive policing does reduce crime. In the last two years, we have seen a sharp decrease in police presence. Reuters reports that fewer stops led to fewer people being searched for illegal guns and drugs, and 50% fewer people being charged with breaking gun laws. Finally, we see judges, the Minnesota Freedom Fund, and ambitious prosecutors helping to release repeat, violent offenders. What is the point in apprehending criminals if they can return to terrorizing our communities the next day?

As always, I am here for you if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. Please feel free to reach out to me by email at Sen.Gene.Dornink@Senate.mn or call me at 651-296-5240.