First of all, happy new year. I was so glad of the break, though I am still recovering from too much food and too few wins at cards with the family.
While I was gone, of course I kept up on the news – as I’m sure you all did. Public safety is really heavy on my heart today – and still. Like most of you, I’m sure, I’ve been stewing on the latest crimes in St. Paul – a brazen mugging of an elderly woman followed by a carjacking of a young mother and her child – both by 1 adult and 2 teenagers with criminal histories. At least two of these young men highlight an additional challenge – they should have been detained as a result of previous serious convictions.
So many of these crimes are being committed by known offenders, as in the two incidents above. Which takes me to another article from Dec 22, about long time Ramsey County and Washington County prosecutors who walked away from their jobs last year, one “citing his frustration with policies he says are designed to keep offenders out of jail.”
We need a victim-centered approach to our public safety, one that includes the police making the arrests and the judicial system actually holding the offenders responsible – and detaining them.
Separate and yet related is the upcoming federal civil rights trial of the 3 ex-Minneapolis police officers to be held in St. Paul starting this month (jury selection begins Jan 20). Why is it being held in St. Paul, you ask? Very good question. Cases are assigned randomly to federal judges, and U.S. District Judge Paul Mangnuson's chambers are in downtown St. Paul. The city had asked for the trial to be moved to Minneapolis. The St. Paul Police Department continues with their planning phase in advance of the trial in order to achieve their goal of protecting the people, property, and free speech of all involved parties - and helping minimize disruptions to those of you who live and work in the downtown neighborhood.
One of the first things you will notice changing around the courthouse is the fencing that will be erected. The fencing will encompass the block the courthouse sits on and will require one lane closure on each street (Jackson, Kellogg, Robert and Fourth) along the curb line. We can expect that the lane closures will expand as we get closer to the beginning of the trial. Follow this link to sign up for BUSINESS information meetings hosted by the St. Paul police department.
Public safety has to be Job 1, which requires that all partners from the police through to the judicial system are in alignment. Your Chamber is making public safety a top priority moving forward, to ensure your voice, your concerns, are communicated. We all have a role to play in keeping our community safe, because the assurance of public safety is essential. Your Chamber’s public affairs department is convening a subcommittee looking at the business role in public safety. For updates on that work through the year, subscribe to our advocacy newsletter.
See you in the trenches.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.
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St. Paul looks to attract more diverse developers – particularly for housing development services.