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Position Statement on Law Enforcement 
and Public Safety

I became personally involved with issues of law enforcement after the disappearance of St. John’s University student Joshua Guimond of Maple Lake in November 2002, working with child safety advocate Patty Wetterling and liaising with several law enforcement agencies and private investigators in an ongoing effort to find Josh — who remains missing – and to help shed light on other missing person cases in Minnesota and beyond.

In the course of my dealings with law enforcement the past eight years, I have become acutely aware of the extent and seriousness of another problem that threatens public safety: the troublesome increase in illegal drugs, especially methamphetamine.

On July 29, 2008 I met with Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner to learn more about important law enforcement and public safety concerns in the county.

Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner
Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner

According to Sheriff Sanner, there is a “huge rise right now in the drug problem, especially methamphetamine.”

Thanks to vigorous law enforcement efforts, aided by the 2004 Minnesota Crime Bill [Rosen’s Bill — HF# 90 and SF# 51; Minnesota Statute 152.0972 (16) (17) (18)] which tightened regulations for over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine (used in the production of methamphetamine), local manufacture of the drug has been practically eliminated.

However, huge amounts of drugs are still streaming in across our borders, with nearly all of the methamphetamine seized by the Central Minnesota Drug and Gang Task Force coming in from Mexico. Local law enforcement agencies cannot effectively combat drug crime without federal assistance. Yet, the Byrne federal grant that funds the drug task force was in danger of being cut, which would leave law enforcement agencies in Minnesota without the necessary tools and resources to fight drug crime effectively.

[3/6/09 update: Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office announced that about $29 million in federal stimulus money for law enforcement funding has been secured for Minnesota for distribution through the Department of Justice's Byrne Grant program, up from $2.1 million in 2008, with $377,315 earmarked for Central Minnesota.]

Sheriff Sanner made the point that we are making headway with the methamphetamine problem and that loss of federal funding would be “a giant step backward for the community.” Federal support, among other things, enables the drug task force to fund informants and improve coordination among law enforcement agencies — both federal and local.

Sheriff Sanner explained that for the past decade, drug enforcement has been not just a law enforcement problem, but a community problem. Specifically, unless we see improvements in areas such as health care and education, we will lose traction in the fight to mitigate the meth problem.

Sheriff Sanner stressed the importance of having our representatives in Washington be accessible and responsive to the needs of law enforcement agencies. Local law enforcement agencies put a high premium on open lines of communication, with their elected officials in Washington inquiring periodically how things are going in law enforcement and asking how they can help.

I’m committed to making every effort to help give our local law enforcement agencies and first responders the tools and resources they need to keep our communities safe.

Aubrey Immelman
July 2008

——

As a volunteer storm spotter with Stearns County Skywarn, among the things I notice with an eye to public safety as I travel through Minnesota’s Sixth District in my congressional campaign are the storm sirens in the various communities.

The siren shown in this YouTube video, on top of City Hall in Paynesville, is impressive.

TOPICAL NEWS REPORT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT

Dozens of Foreign-Born Gang Members Nailed in Sweep

James Walsh
Star Tribune
Aug. 15, 2008

Dozens of illegal immigrant gang members from Mexico and other countries have been swept up in the past two weeks by federal agents and Twin Cities-area police, officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday.

Called Operation Community Shield, the ongoing effort netted 50 arrests, including 35 gang members and seven gang associates from 10 Twin Cities-area gangs. Of the 50 arrested, 38 are illegal immigrants, said ICE spokesman Tim Counts.

Participating law-enforcement agencies also arrested 10 U.S. citizens and two permanent residents, also known as green-card holders, on various state and federal charges, including weapons possession, possessing illegal drugs and criminal traffic offenses. Twelve of those arrested have previous convictions, including assault, drug possession, criminal damage to property, burglary, disorderly conduct and drunken driving.

Of the illegal immigrants arrested, Counts said, 29 come from Mexico, six from Honduras, two from El Salvador and one from Ecuador. …

Operation Community Shield is a nationwide effort to go after what ICE calls “transnational street gangs.” About 10,000 gang members from 700 different gangs have been apprehended since the effort began in February 2005.

Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Bloomington, was the architect of Operation Community Shield when he worked in Washington, D.C.

“Street gangs pose a growing public-safety threat to communities throughout Minnesota,” Arnold said. And foreign-born gangs pose a “huge problem” for communities, he said. Because gang members are from other countries, they often maintain relationships with criminals abroad, fueling ongoing smuggling operations of drugs, weapons and people, Arnold said.

Local agencies

Working with local law enforcement is critical to dismantling them, he said.

Locally, ICE worked with several agencies, including the Metro Gang Strike Force, Brooklyn Park Police, Richfield Police, the State Patrol, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). …

Jim Heimerl, assistant commander of the Metro Gang Strike Force, said, “A lot of people think that everybody who comes to Minnesota just wants to live here, wants to work here. But these guys, they victimize people.”

Full story

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Public Safety Resources from the Star Tribune Info Center

  • Search Level 3 sex offenders in your community
  • Minnesota crime statistics
  • Minnesota court cases
  • Criminal histories
  • Missing persons
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