Remarks as prepared

Thank you all for being here.

We’re here today to talk about one of the greatest challenges facing Saint Paul: the gun violence public health crisis.

  • A woman celebrating Mother’s Day with her family was randomly shot in the leg in a Park-a few blocks west of where we’re standing.
  • A two year old girl was shot in the head on Father’s Day in her family’s back yard near Rice Street.
  • Officers working in this building responded to a shots fired incident during a violent domestic assault at a home with five children.  Thankfully the victim, the children and the officers are safe.
  • And just last week I received an email from a Saint Paul resident that began “I’d just like to let you know that last night at 1:15 am a bullet went through the second floor window of my month old daughter’s bedroom…”

I am angry about what is happening in our city.

  • Since January 1, 2017, in the City of Saint Paul, 17 people have been murdered.
  • More than 125 people have been injured by gunshots.
  • There have been more than 1,100 reports of shots fired in St. Paul.
  • And more than 400 guns- many of them stolen- have been recovered by our police department.

Behind all of these numbers are our neighbors, our friends, and our family members.

To echo the words of police Chief Todd Axtell, Saint Paul is in the midst of a public health crisis. And I couldn’t agree more.

But, this crisis doesn’t affect all of us the same.

My wife, Laura, and I do not put our four children to bed at night with the sound of gunfire outside of our home.

We don’t think about whether or not our children can play outside without an errant gunshot destroying their sense of safety and security.

Those most affected by guns in Saint Paul are the young, the elderly, the poor and our diverse communities.

It is indefensible, unconscionable and immoral for any parent of any child in any corner of St. Paul to live in fear.

It is an epidemic that demands a call to action.

I’m sick and tired of waiting and watching our neighbors suffer in Saint Paul.

I want Saint Paul to be safer today.

And so, today, I present “Safe Saint Paul:  A Blueprint for Neighborhood Safety and an End to Gun Violence.”

This plan is specifically focused on things that I as Mayor of Saint Paul can do to prevent gun violence in our city from day one.

Safe Saint Paul offers specific, concrete steps to confront and prevent the gun violence in our midst, and aggressive efforts to not just stem the violence but to bring it to an end.

Enforcement, engagement, education and eradication are at the bedrock of Safe Saint Paul. We will make every neighborhood safe from gun violence.

Enforcement requires more police on the streets.

Engagement requires more outreach to every community every single day.

Education requires curriculum in our schools and elsewhere to empower young people to lead St. Paul into a future that is safe and welcoming for everyone.

Eradication requires us to bring our community, law enforcement, judicial system, foundation and faith communities and others together to create an environment of zero tolerance for gun violence and crime.

Safe Saint Paul is a five point plan that addresses the crisis before us.

Point #1: We need resources.

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.

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 in the community dedicated to responding to- but more importantly -preventing violent crime.

Our police department invests a great deal of resources in leading youth to success. Our new officers will strengthen these efforts.

Point #2: We need to enforce the laws on the books.

We will forge stronger partnerships to enforce the laws that prohibit illegal and dangerous uses of guns and aggressively prosecute gun crimes.

My City Attorney will assign a “Gun Violence Community Prosecutor” to support Chief Axtell’s shooting and incident response teams. 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.

Furthermore, I will work with Ramsey County Attorney John Choi to form a Joint Gun Violence Prosecution Unit. I will ask our judges, sheriff and federal partners to join with Saint Paul to develop new and dedicated ways to target gun violence in our City.

Point #3: Community is critical.

I will engage and empower our district councils and faith leaders to focus on preventing crime- We won’t wait for shots to be fired.

  • I will appoint a violence prevention coordinator in the mayor’s office who will report directly to me to coordinate our work as a city with state and county social services resources, community organizations, and community ambassadors.
  • Modeled after the Community Ambassador Initiative, we will engage our leaders and innovators to develop a corps of gun violence youth ambassadors who can connect with and mentor our young people at risk of being impacted by gun violence.
  • I will ask our 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.

Point #4: The Mayor needs to be present.

I will personally be on site within 24 hours any time a life is lost to violence in our city, with staff including the community violence prevention coordinator, along with representatives from the City Attorney’s Office, counselors, survivor resources, advocates, and faith leaders

Point #5: We need a smarter approach.

We will support innovative policing and use our existing community policing tools and techniques to their full potential.

I will remove barriers to safer neighborhoods by supporting our officers with resources such as:

  • Chief Axtell’s gun violence response and investigation teams to take the most dangerous offenders off our streets.
  • Resources such as: Evidence-supported technology to reduce response times on shots fired calls, improve reliability of investigative data, and improve provability of gun crime prosecutions.
  • Resources such as: The community engagement unit and support the Police Department’s work in the community to prevent gun violence.
  • Resources such as: Community and faith leaders to fully implement the Police Department’s See Something – Say Something campaign.

And, as you know, if we can’t measure our work, we can’t get better.

  • 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.
  • The workgroup will 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.
  • We 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.

We have it within our means, and our power, to confront this public health crisis and prevent violent crime.

The way out of this crisis will not just be more police – but, more police are needed in St. Paul.

The way out of this crisis will not just be putting more people in jail – but, more enforcement of our laws is needed in St. Paul

The way out of this crisis will not just be meetings, and task forces and community gatherings – but, more community engagement, conversation and outreach is needed in St. Paul.

The way out of this crisis is all of the above – and more – but it requires something else, too.

It requires the personal commitment of the Mayor to make public safety the number one priority of their Administration.

I am the only candidate for mayor of Saint Paul with a specific plan for ending our gun violence public health crisis.

This is a commitment I have made, and a commitment, I am proud to say, has earned me the support of the Saint Paul Police Federation and community leaders like the people up here with me today.

A Mayor must be involved, and leading, the strategies necessary to end gun violence.

A Mayor must be seen and heard by those directly impacted by gun violence in their community.

A Mayor must be with those who are impacted by it, and the Mayor must treat every incident of gun violence in the community as though it happened outside their own home.

I will be that Mayor.That is the promise I make to the people of St. Paul, to every citizen of St. Paul, in every corner of every neighborhood of St. Paul.

You are not in this fight alone. With me as Mayor, we will do this together.

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