MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This is a record year for gun violence in St. Paul. Twenty-six of the 29 homicides this year have involved guns.
Mayor Melvin Carter is asking for more than $1.6 million of city funds to go towards annual public safety investments in what he calls a “community-first approach.”
He admits that his public safety approach this year is a break from tradition. His plan includes funding for designing safe public spaces that are well lit, improving community programs and services, and enhancing the efficiency of law enforcement.
While many were supportive, the opposition in the room was related to forgoing investments in ShotSpotter technology, which locates gunfire and alerts police.
“We have an opportunity to do what’s right, to actually utilize all the tools that we need and that we have at hand,” said St. Paul City Councilmember Dai Thao.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell wants to implement the technology, but Mayor Carter is less convinced it’s an effective tool.
“I think it would be a mistake for us to confuse buying one particular toy with reducing gun violence in our community,” Carter said.
Minneapolis has been using the program for more than 15 years, paying $400,000 annually to fund it — and they say it’s worth it.
“It’s been very effective for us at both detecting gunfire events, as well as helping out subsequently with investigations,” said Minneapolis Police Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher.
For now, Mayor Carter is taking a different approach.
“It’s time to finally listen to those community voices, invest in community capacity, and change our actions and investments based on these understandings,” Carter said.
Chief Axtell released a statement Wednesday, which said in part that he’s disappointed the department won’t be able to use ShotSpotter technology.
“I will not let that deter us from working every day to protect the peace and to maintain public safety,” Axtell said.