In a recently submitted application to President Trump’s Department of Justice for a federal grant request, the St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) indicated in its problem statement within the application that Metro Transit’s Green Line light rail transit line (LRT) was contributing to the ease with which violent crime perpetrators are canvassing across the metro, according to a Star Tribune report.
In part, a statement within the application said that “[g]un violence is increasingly being committed across city boundaries due in part to the recently opened Green Line, a light rail system that connects the region’s two downtowns, Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
The federal grant request, submitted by SPPD on behalf of the Twin Cities Crime Gun Intelligence Center, seeks $750,000 to help the SPPD better investigate and prosecute gun violence crimes, the report said.
Last month US Rep. Betty McCollum was reportedly approached by a lobbyist from ShotSpotter, a company that sells gunshot detection systems, and was one of several members of congress asked to support the grant application.
However, McCollum took issue with the SPPD’s characterization of St. Paul and the Green Line’s crime issues stated in the grant application. A subsequent email sent by her office to St. Paul City Council members indicated that the language used by SPPD in the application “undermines the necessary work to advance transit funding,” and that it “paints a picture that our office feels is not reflective of the city and the people of St. Paul.”
In May MPR News reported that some overnight service on the Green Line was being pulled back amid concerns about drug use, assaults and other misconduct on the trains. That decision was announced just days after a report that juveniles had threatened Green Line patrons with “hammers” at the East Bank platform on the University of Minnesota (U of M) campus. Just days prior to that report the Minnesota Daily reported that two students were robbed and sent to the hospital after a midweek attack at the same LRT station.
Another recent report by Alpha News detailed other violent crimes committed at Green Line stations and other LRT platform locations, crimes which include manslaughter, assault, and robbery.
U of M officials in June again warned students and others after another report of a mid-week overnight robbery near the West Bank Green Line stop.
In the federal grant application for funds, the SPPD said that the city of St. Paul and key neighborhoods “suffer disproportionately from violent crime.” According to the Star Tribune report, St. Paul Police Assistant Chief Robert Thomasser said that he wasn’t aware of the lobbying effort by ShotSpotter to members of congress, and in reference to McCollum’s email to the City Council he said “we certainly understand why the descriptions in the problem statement in the grant might be alarming to her. Hearing about gun violence and gang activity and prostitution can be difficult.”
Minnesota Crime Watch & Information offers citizen-powered news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.
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