Amid rising concerns about gun violence, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety is offering local police departments a helping hand.
In a letter dated Thursday to police chiefs and other law enforcement leaders around the state, Assistant Commissioner Booker Hodges highlighted resources that the department and its affiliated state agencies can provide to help in local investigations of gun crimes.
The tools include a forensics lab to test-fire guns to see if they match casings found at crime scenes. The state also offers financial assistance for victims of gun crimes.
The letter follows Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington’s testimony at a daylong hearing in Hibbing last month, when he spoke in favor of expanding background checks for gun sales, including private transfers. Harrington, a former St. Paul police officer and Metro Transit police chief, noted that he called for similar measures as a state senator a decade ago.
“At the Department of Public Safety, unlike my earlier jobs when I was mainly a city cop, I don’t just see urban violence anymore,” Harrington said. “I hear about the double murders in Nevis: Three women shot, two killed, two officers shot. I see the 110% increase in guns turned in to our state laboratories. Five hundred more guns than even a few years ago — guns taken off the street from folks not allowed to have them.”