Reporting Heather Brown
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — To get 85 of the top law enforcement officials from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa in one room takes a full year of planning. That was the case for the day-long 2013 Summit to Combat Gun Violence and Crime in Minneapolis.
With the focus on the national gun control debate, organizers say the coincidental timing made the event even more important.
“In the cities of Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Detroit, there is a slow-motion mass murder taking place every year,” said Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn.
Much of the day was behind closed doors, because organizers say they wanted to foster honest talk. But some strategies that appear to be working in communities were made public.
Among them is one that prioritizes targeting illegal gun trafficking by investigating particular gun models, buyers and dealers. Another involved targeting particular places, what some call “hot spot” enforcement.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau stressed the need to foster strong relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
“It really is about building those relationships with the community,” she said. “We can talk about laws, but the public trust is key.”
The participants also discussed strategies that don’t appear to work, like gun buyback programs. They talked about places to improve, like more specific data from the ATF about illegal guns that are used to kill people. That data has been limited since the year 2000.
“It’s wrong for a congressman in Washington to somehow believe that they should prevent a mother from having that information,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. He plans to bring up that change when he heads to Washington, D.C., next week to lobby for gun reforms.
Each of the leaders dismissed the notion this summit was just another round of talk – something Sami Rahamim, the son of the Accent Signage owner who was shot by an employee last summer, took to heart.
“It’s just this sense that there’s so much we can do,” he said. “It’s almost we don’t know where to even start. We can be doing so much better than this.”
Planning for the conference began a year ago, but its scope grew after recent mass shootings at Accent Signage, a Connecticut elementary school, and a Sikh temple and mall in the Milwaukee area.
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