Sandy Burt stresses crime prevention

Crime and public safety is the top priority for Sandy Burt as Minneapolis faces an unprecedented crime wave. Crime is up 35 percent over this time in 2005. Other than attempting to blame the governor, what leadership has state Sen. Larry Pogemiller shown on this issue? Sandy doesn’t want our beloved city to be called “Murderapolis” again. We need innovative solutions and new blood in the legislature with dynamic new ideas, not the rehashed liberal sympathy for criminals and excuses for their predatory behaviors.

Sandy would support the Three Strikes Law pioneered in California that targets repeat offenders for longer sentences. She wants violent offenders to be put away or to flee Minnesota when they start to see our tougher sentencing laws. Mandatory sentencing guideline laws need to be made stricter with less leeway for judges to let felons get off. Sandy also supports legislation that would force sex offenders to serve their entire sentence without supervised release.

Sandy wants state funds that are sent to Minneapolis specifically targeted to law enforcement funding so they can’t be diverted to other programs as has happened in the past. Money for cops should be used for cops, not social schemes or pet projects of the City Council. Sandy wants minimum staffing levels for the police as the firefighters already have.

Sandy strongly supports CrimNet, which is an offshoot of Katie’s Law that was passed in 2000 that helps to set aside funds to upgrade government computers and data systems so that repeat offenders can be tracked. CrimNet helps law enforcement officials better communicate and share information in order to accurately identify individuals, to make sure that criminal justice records are accurate and available, to track an individual’s status in the criminal justice system, to provide standards for data sharing and analysis, to maintain security of information and to accomplish this tracking of offenders more efficiently and effectively. We need to encourage the full implementation of CrimNet, yet Pogemiller opposed Senate Bill 2561 (CrimNet and government data), which had amendments to strengthen and implement CrimNet. Is this leadership?

One of the concerns is funding of CrimNet. In 2000 the legislature set aside millions of dollars for CrimNet and other reforms in the criminal justice information systems. Many city governments, including Minneapolis, are working toward integrating their systems with CrimNet. CrimNet is an investment that will ultimately benefit our communities and is worth much more than the money put into it if you consider that our communities will be safer and our police force will be strengthened. CrimNet has stagnated due to lack of leadership and the legislative will to implement it fully.

We believe that Pogemiller’s voting record in the state Legislature demonstrates an unacceptable liberal softness on crime. For example, in 2005 he opposed an amendment to require Level III sex offenders to serve their entire sentence in prison, opposed a life sentence without parole for a sex offender crime with certain aggravating circumstances such as torture of children or the elderly, and opposed preventing supervised release for first-degree murder convicts. As you may recall, it was the campaign ad by President George H.W. Bush who attacked then Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis for having a furlough program for violent offenders that helped elect Bush in 1988.

Senator Pogemiller has had 25 years to get the job done and, unfortunately, things have only gotten worse. His lack of support for law enforcement has tied the hands of the police. We need a change of direction; someone in the Minnesota Legislature who can be counted on to be tough on crime. We need someone who will be more concerned about the rights of victims and the needs of the police than the rights of criminals; someone like Sandy Burt for our next senator for Senate District 59. Let’s work to put Sandy in the state Legislature, where she can do the most good for all of us.

Sandy Burt is the Republican-endorsed candidate for state Senate District 59.

Michael Gallagher is media director for Sandy Burt. Please send comments to [email protected]