Gov. Governor Tim Walz has promoted the State Patrol’s work and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension this month. He directed them to intervene in the Twin Cities during violent periods to reduce crime. This publicity comes as Republicans criticize the governor for his handling crime during a competitive election.
On Thursday, Walz and state officials displayed a table containing seized guns to show the success of their police work. Traffic stops were a key strategy in policing.
Walz stated that over 2,000 targeted traffic stops have been made in the past few weeks at the BCA headquarters near St. Paul.
This emphasis comes one-year after Daunte Wright was fatally shot by Kim Potter, a former officer of the police force. The incident sparked fierce debate at the Legislature about whether or not to limit how often cops can pull over someone.
The governor stated that State Patrol traffic stops were fruitful. However, troopers don’t pursue minor infractions such as outdated car tabs. Some criticize these “pretextual” stops by police to search someone. Walz stated that troopers are focusing on traffic violations that pose a danger to public safety.
To combat street racing and other crimes, the State Patrol deployed additional troopers to high-crime areas this summer. This initiative was primarily focused on Minneapolis. The patrol also ran a HEAT program, Highway Enforcement for Aggressive Traffic – which targeted certain highway corridors in order to reduce speeding.
According to the patrol, it made 1,459 stops in the metro on the weekend of July 9 and recovered six guns as well as making 45 DWI arrests.
John Harrington, Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Public Safety, stated that the patrol sent 20 state troopers and air resources to Minneapolis last weekend. They conducted more than 600 traffic stops and issued 515 citations, including 20 for impaired driving. 19 people were also arrested for other crimes.
After Wright’s death, certain types of traffic stop were heavily criticised. (She was
Convicted of First- and Second-degree Manslaughter
In the case. Many Democrats and civil rights groups claimed that police routinely pulled over Black people and others of color to check for other crimes. Wright was stopped for having expired tabs. The police discovered that Wright had a warrant for a gross misdemeanor.
In 2021, some DFLers in Minnesota House proposed that traffic stops be lifted for a few vehicle offenses like hanging objects from the rearview mirror, driving without a tail light on or driving with expired car tabs. Walz supported this idea. Minneapolis also announced that traffic stops would be lifted for certain infractions in 2021.
The Legislature, however, resisted the idea of limiting traffic stops. This eventually prevented the DFL bill becoming state law. Partly, they argued that all traffic stops are crucial to confiscating illegally owned guns and finding evidence of other serious crimes. The GOP suggested that limiting traffic stops could weaken police.
DPS provided broad numbers of guns they seized during all traffic stops in recent times, amid the debate. Between 2018 and June 2021, the patrol conducted 1.18 million traffic stops. This resulted in 6,217 arrests for people with active warrants as well as the confiscation 932 firearms.
Scott Jensen, the Republican candidate for governor, has made crime prevention a central plank of his campaign. He portrays Walz as being weak on the issue and is not supportive of police officers.
Are Walz and Harrington changing their minds or stepping back from their opinions on traffic stops?
They claim they are not.
Harrington stated that patrol stops are “directed towards traffic safety.”
span style=”font weight: 400 They’re looking into offenses against traffic law which impact crashes,” Harrington said. Harrington stated that this includes speeding and distracted driving. Last week, a news release stated that troopers will be focusing their efforts on West Metro highways to find people who are not wearing a seatbelt.
Harrington stated that troopers often pull over someone who is driving “120” in a 60. This person is often not adhering to other laws “like being felon in possession a firearm.”
Harrington stated that in addition to traffic safety being the primary reason behind the stop, they are also getting a collateral offense, arrest warrants, drugs, and weapons.
Walz and Harrington were both asked whether the patrol would make more arrests or find more guns if they stopped people for minor violations. Harrington stated that the patrol’s traditional focus is on traffic safety and that he shared this information with the Legislature as they discussed limiting stops for infractions such as a broken taillight.
Walz stated that the patrol does not look for old car tabs and urged people to renew them. He said, “This isn’t about blanket harassment.” “This is about stopping people doing really dangerous things .”
Cedrick Frazier (a New Hope Democrat) sponsored the traffic stop bill and was vice chairman of House’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee. He stated that he would like data about these traffic stops in order to ensure they don’t have adisproportionate impact on people of color. He stated that police should not make the lack of a seatbelt a major concern. He said that he would like to see data showing that the patrol does not stop for speeding or impairment.
Frazier stated that there is a way to focus on getting guns off the streets and stopping the ongoing harm in these communities. Frazier said, “But I also want us to ensure that we are not… exacerbating disparities we have with traffic stop.”
Walz met Monday with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, interim city chief Amelia Huffman and to update them about state policing initiatives as well as the status of the city’s police department. The governor stated that they will be providing “extra resources” to Minneapolis for the Aquatennial this weekend.
He said that law enforcement must be present at large events such as these.