This past week the majority of my time was spent on the issue of public safety. A week ago Monday, 2 men were fatally shot next to Central Station in downtown St. Paul. And the tragedy is that no one is surprised. This tragedy is a significant upward departure even from what we’ve been dealing with; two murders on a weeknight, during a Wild game. Yet, still, no one is surprised. I’ll tell you what I think this is – another urgent wake-up call. The question before us is, what do we need to do differently moving forward?
On Monday evening, December 19, Councilmember Rebecca Noecker (Ward 2) convened a community forum (included SPPD, Metro Transit police, and Office of Neighborhood Safety) to talk about what is being considered to “do differently.” You’ll hear more from City leadership/SPPD/Metro Transit soon, and the recommendations include closing the vertical connection for a period while security upgrades are installed; wrapping the skyway; and improving patrols volume and coordination. Listen to a recording of the forum here, when it becomes available.
The challenge of improved public safety, of course, extends beyond this one incident. This simply exemplifies perception colliding with reality. We are challenged with caring for our unsheltered so they don’t sleep in the skyways and downtown buildings at night, addressing specific hot spots like Central Station, ensuring our police department is set up for success with sufficient resources to tackle the immediate needs before us.
Because the degree of frustration and concern is elevating. Monday’s meeting, while outwardly polite, also reflected the very serious frustration from participants. Know that we are conveying your intense concern as well and staying as close as possible to the situation to ensure we are part of the solution.
See you in the trenches.