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Republicans At State Capitol Pitch $65M For Police Bonuses, Scholarships – WCCO

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Republicans and Democrats in the state Legislature are trying to solve law recruitment enforcement challenges felt in departments across the state, putting forward proposals as part of broader public safety plans defines a top priority this year.

Republicans on Thursday announced a $65 million package that includes $20 million for bonuses up to $10,000 for new police hires; and various programs that focus on education, including tuition reimbursement and additional financial aid for individuals pursuing law enforcement degrees.

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“The defund the police movement and the anti-police rhetoric has really played a negative toll on police officers and police departments,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, during a news conference.

Brian Peters, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officer Association, which represents rank-and-file officers said recruitment is an issue not just in Minneapolis, where the police department has lost almost 300 officers recentlybb, but across the state.

Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, authored the House proposal that he says is an “innovative” approach to public safety rising amid crime and staffing challenges. It includes a task force made up of law enforcement to develop strategies for hiring more officers, with an eye on boosting more diversity in the ranks.

“We can’t fool ourselves and think we can just dump a bunch of money and tomorrow a bunch of candidates are going to show up and fill the ranks of law enforcement,” he said. “This is a real challenge.”

His bill sets aside $22 million for grants to get more officers on foot patrolling neighborhoods with high levels of criminal activity. There’s also funding to get more investigators to solve shootings and homicides.

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The DFL approach also focuses on violence prevention, supplying grants for community groups focused on violence prevention.

“We’re trying to give tools for communities and law enforcement so they can figure out how to do what’s best for the public framework they need in their communities,” he said.

Frazier pointed to a recent report the Minneapolis Police Department submitted to the city council, which detailed that calls for service which involve taking reports for theft and other property crimes take nearly twice as long for officers to complete than those calls that sworn officers by law are required to handle.

The department could free up between 73 and 106 patrol position if all non-life threatening calls for service were handled by community groups or other nonpublic agencies, according to a presentation to the city council.

There will need to be a compromise among leaders and the governor for the competing public safety bills, which will likely change from the initial proposals discussed at the capitol this week.

MORE NEWS: st. Paul Shooting Suspect Found Dead By Officers Serving Arrest Warrant, Police Say

Gov. Tim Walz pitches loan forgiveness for new officers, similar to the Republicans’ plan. The GOP and Walz also want an advertising campaign to get more Minnesotans to consider a career in law enforcement.

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