The safety of our communities cannot be collateral damage to political maneuvering. With violent crime on the rise, we cannot fail Minnesotans on one of the most pressing issues of the day without calling for action that needed to start months ago.
Last month, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned without taking meaningful action to address violent crime. Last week, negotiations regarding a special session appeared to have reached an impasse. The clock is ticking, and each day we see another report of senseless violence that adds to the fear our communities are feeling.
There is still time to make critical investments in policing, the courts, victims' assistance and data-driven investments in corrections. Both the Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House have offered an array of proposals that can reduce violent crime. Gov. Tim Walz and the House stand ready to forge bipartisan agreements focused on reducing crime and advancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the state's criminal justice system.
We must put Minnesota's historic surplus to work on public safety now. We have the opportunity to invest in proven strategies to advance community safety. Providing new funding for crime prevention efforts, strengthening criminal investigations and policing, enhancing intervention strategies that reduce reoffending and ensuring a focus on effective responses to youth delinquency will pay public safety dividends both in the short and long-term.
We also must deal with a short-term federal gap in funding that will reduce funding to programs that support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault along with general crime victim services. A cut to this funding would have devastating impacts, especially at a time when we have seen domestic violence on the rise.
Law enforcement partners in our communities also need support. To improve public safety in every community in Minnesota we must attract and retain well-qualified, well-trained and healthy police officers who are committed to servicing their communities. We must act now to provide critical resources to local agencies big and small with investments in training, wellness of officers, and recruitment and retention supports to keep our law enforcement agencies fully staffed.
With additional investments, the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension can more robustly support local crime-solving efforts. We must act to increase our DNA and firearms testing capacity at the statewide lab to improve efficiency and prosecution outcomes. Decades of research has shown that the best deterrent to crime is the fear of getting arrested and charged — and these investments will help police solve crimes and hold those committing them accountable.
Finally, what we do with individuals when they enter the criminal justice system matters. We must invest in correctional supervision with a focus on evidence-based practices in our corrections systems to reduce the risk of reoffending. Given that 95% of the people in Minnesota prisons will return to neighborhoods across our state, ensuring their success moves toward the vision of having no more victims.
As former police officers and as commissioners of Minnesota's largest public safety agencies, we urge leaders in the state Senate to respond to the offer of Gov. Walz and the state House to come back together to forge agreement on a public safety package. The safety of Minnesotans depends on it.