The Potluck

Senate GOP bills would boost funding for law enforcement, training, transit cops

By: - February 9, 2022 2:26 pm

Metro Transit police officers congregate on a station platform. Photo by Henry Pan/Minnesota Reformer.

Senate Republicans considered legislation to fund a handful of training and law enforcement programs Wednesday, including giving $2 million to the Ramsey County sheriff’s office for a gunshot detection system. 

Lawmakers heard four GOP-sponsored bills that would increase the amount of money to reimburse people pursuing careers as police officers. Another bill from state Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, would give $750,000 for the Metro Transit Violent Crime Enforcement Team (VCET), a multi-agency initiative that helps address crime on the region’s buses and light-rail trains. 

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher testified in support of some of the bills, saying the additional funding for the VCET program gives Metro Transit police additional resources to investigate crime with help from his department. The program, Fletcher said, has been hamstrung by a lack of funding, saying $250,000 has not been enough. That amount was less than had been initially proposed for the program. 

State Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, was skeptical about additional funding without ensuring intra-agency cooperation for VCET was worthwhile. 

Fletcher also said the gunshot detection system his department wants to roll out would help his deputies get real-time information when firearms are used. 

Minneapolis is the only Minnesota city that currently uses the ShotSpotter technology, but its effectiveness has been called into question by the ACLU and others

Republicans also want to spend $2.5 million to provide training to officers on the state’s updated use-of-force law, which had been the subject of litigation by police groups that sought its delay after it was approved in 2020. 

The bills were laid over for consideration, and no official votes were taken.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.