Safe Saint Paul: A Blueprint for Neighborhood Safety and an End to Gun Violence

As a city, we have an obligation to put safety first and respond to gun violence – it hurts us all. Not a single neighborhood is spared devastation and loss when shots are fired. Safety for all cannot be achieved in a city where people live in fear of indiscriminate gunfire.

Saint Paul is facing a gun violence public health crisis. Since January 1, 2017, in the City of Saint Paul, there have been 17 homicides, more than 1,100 reports of shots fired in St. Paul this year (a more than 40% increase over the same period last year), more than 125 people wounded in shootings, and more than 400 guns recovered. Behind all of these numbers are our neighbors, friends, and family members. We can do better. We must do better.

The Pat Harris Administration will make public safety a top priority. Here’s how:

#1  – Hire 50 new police officers that reflect the diversity of our community. We cannot hope to meet our basic obligation to ensure public safety unless our police department has the personnel and resources it takes enforce our laws with dignity and respect. As mayor, I will provide Chief Axtell with the new officers he needs to keep our city safe, while at the same time increasing our commitment to community. I pledge to hire 50 new officers in my first term as Mayor; these officers will reflect the diversity of our community. These new resources will dramatically increase the number of officers on the beat and in the community. New resources will also be dedicated to responding to violent crime. Every person in our city deserves to be safe in their home and their neighborhood, and to know that their friends and family members are safe.

#2 – Enforce the laws that keep our city safe. We will forge important partnerships to provide critical enforcement and safety.

  • I will direct the next City Attorney to assign a “gun violence community prosecutor” to support Chief Axtell’s shooting and incident response teams to enforce the laws that prohibit illegal and dangerous uses of guns. The gun violence community prosecutor will focus on gun crimes and taking illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of individuals who cannot legally possess firearms and who would use these guns to victimize our communities.
  • We will create a joint prosecution unit focused on gun crime. I will call for a Joint Gun Violence Prosecution Unit with Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and ask our judiciary, sheriff and federal partners to join with Saint Paul in new and dedicated ways to target gun violence in our City.

#3 – Empower neighborhoods. We will partner with our neighborhoods in this fight. I will work with our district councils and faith leaders to Focus on Safety.

  • Addressing gun violence starts with a community that confronts crime before it happens. We will invest in our district councils to prevent gun violence, build networks, and empower our city.
  • I will meet monthly with all of the district councils and faith leaders to ensure that our community investment is fully leveraged to meet the need for community-built public safety.
  • I will appoint a community violence prevention coordinator who will report to my office to coordinate our work as a city with state and county social services resources, community organizations, and community ambassadors.
  • Provide institutionalized support and funding for Saint Paul’s Safe Summer Nights to ensure the ongoing success of this vital program in our city.
  • Modeled after the Community Ambassador Initiative, we will reach out to our leaders and innovators to develop gun violence youth ambassadors who can connect with and mentor our young people at risk of being impacted by gun violence.
  • I will ask Saint Paul Public Schools along with our private schools and public charter schools to collaborate with City and community resources in our neighborhoods; after school and all summer long to help our youth stay away from guns and violence.

#4 – Respond to the community. Within 24 hours of an incident where a person is lost to violence, my staff and I, including my community violence prevention coordinator, will be on the ground to talk to the community about what it needs to begin the hard process of healing and what we need to do as a city to prevent future incidents, along with representatives from the City Attorney’s Office, counselors, survivor resources, advocates, and faith leaders. My office will partner with faith leaders and other non-law enforcement resources to provide community aftercare and ongoing services in our most impacted neighborhoods, directed to shots fired and gun violence “hot spots”.

#5 – Support innovative policing. We must use technology and cutting-edge practices to support innovative policing. I will remove barriers to innovative safety strategies.

  • Fully fund Chief Axtell’s gun violence response and investigation teams to take the most dangerous offenders off our streets.
  • Fund evidence-supported technology to reduce response times on shots fired calls, improve reliability of investigative data, and improve provability of gun crime prosecutions.
  • Support the Police Department’s Community Outreach initiatives; fully fund the Department’s community engagement unit and support the Police Department’s work in the community to prevent gun violence.
  • Work with community and faith leaders to fully implement the Police Department’s See Something – Say Something campaign.

Bringing it all together – Safe Saint Paul: A Blueprint for Neighborhood Safety and an End to Gun Violence.

As your Mayor, I will lead all of these initiatives to create a Safe Saint Paul Blueprint for Ending Gun Violence. Modeled after successes from the nationally-recognized Domestic Violence Blueprint for Safety, I will call partners to the table from all stages of incident response, from 9-1-1 to community reintegration to create a comprehensive response to the gun violence public health crises facing our city.

  • Working with the foundation community, I will create a Saint Paul Gun Violence Response Workgroup who will be tasked with developing systematic approaches to shots fired and gun violence incidents that start with the first call for help and follow an incident all the way through to community recovery.
  • This inter-disciplinary team will include 9-1-1 dispatchers, law enforcement, victim and witness services providers, prosecutors, corrections, our public health professionals, advocates, the city’s new community violence prevention coordinator, and our community. I will ask workgroup stakeholders to develop an intentional process to appoint the most effective representatives from government partners and our community to ensure that this effort is successful.
  • The workgroup will develop tools to define and measure success in confronting gun violence.
  • The workgroup will deliver a Gun Violence Roadmap to Safety Report within my first year of office that will lead the state and nation in gun violence prevention and community response.

I will be personally involved and committed to public safety. We will take the lessons we learn and continuously rededicate ourselves to improvement along the way. Together, we will make our city a safer place to live, work and raise a family. This work is too important for anything less. Please join with me in this critically important vision and initiative.

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