MPR Goes to the Fair: Amy Klobuchar and Susan Gaertner on crime, law and justice in the Twin Cities

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Gary Eichten broadcasts live from the Minnesota State Fair. Two of Minnesota's top crime-fighters: Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar and Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner.

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Cross the street this year from the dueling Pirates high diving show this first our midday. We've been joined by two of Minnesota's top crime fighter's Hennepin County attorney. Amy Klobuchar and Ramsey County attorney. Susan Gartner Susan. Garrett Nur is serving her second term as Ramsey County attorney. Amy Klobuchar is serving his first turn her first term as a Hennepin County attorney. Both women are the first women to serve as County attorney in their respective counties got a attorneys Klobuchar and Gartner are have joined us this hour to take your questions on crime and the criminal justice system. So those of you here in the audience, if you've got a question come on up to the microphone and we'll get your question on the air. Don't be shy those of you listening on the radio. Give us a call. Our Twin City area number is 6512276 thousand 6512276 thousand if you're calling from outside the Twin Cities one eight hundred two, four two two eight 286512276 thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two.Susan Gartner Amy Klobuchar. Thanks for coming by today. Great to be on my pleasure. Now the obvious question first. Are there a lot of women County attorneys around the country. Are you folks pretty unusual? Well, I would say we're pretty unusual. As you said. I was the first woman in Ramsey County to be the County Attorney Amy the same in Hennepin County right now out of the 87 counties in Minnesota. There's only four of us and across the country are numbers are still pretty rare. When you go to the national conferences at Susan and I attend once a year. What is very interesting is you realize it is unique here because there are 90 percent of them appear to be mad. My husband actually went on the spouse event. When we were in Spokane Washington and the event was a tour of the historic homes of Spokane followed by tea and crumpets and he was the only man on the event so he became kind of a folk hero but it is something that one area of politics and public service thatMen are new on the scene and I hope our numbers are growing. The crime rate has actually gone down substantially in recent years. Is that because and and you all the surveys seem to indicate that people feel safer crime is kind of dropped and list of concerns is that because people really are safer or they just feel safer for variety of reasons. What's the reality? Well, I know in Minneapolis and in Hennepin County, we've had substantial crime rate reductions particularly with the part one crimes the most violent crimes, so it isn't just a perception it's reality and I think a lot of it is that we've had these joint coordinated efforts that we didn't do before Ramsey and Hennepin County have been working together. The police have been working with us and most importantly the community has become more involved. There's nothing better for reducing crime than having an organized block club and knowing your neighbors and watching over things. So it's been a joint effort. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done atNot acceptable the crime we have now but it has significantly come down from the time in 1995 when Minneapolis was called Murder appleís Gary. That's a really interesting question. I've been a prosecutor in Ramsey County for 18 years. And what I've noticed is there's never a good connection between crime rates and perception of crime in the I was surprised in the recent poll that st. Paul residents still considered crime one of their top issues, which is unusual and yet st. Paul is and always has been one of the safest cities of its kind of its size in America. So in crime is going down in st. Paul from a lower level than elsewhere. So it's hard to know I think more than anything. If you have been a victim you don't feel safe. And even if you look at the big picture numbers crime is going down in every category, but if your car's been stolen then you don't feel like it's a safe Community seemed like gangs and drugs wereDo for the sharp increase in crime, but it is that pretty much the worst of that over now. Well speaking for Hennepin County. We still do have a significant gang problem. And while some of the gangs that were active years ago, we've done a good job or working with the police of basically reducing their activity. We keep seeing new gangs popping up in both Ramsey and Hennepin County. I know we've had a recurring problem with Asian gangs now, but again a lot of work done in the community, we actually have a victim witness Advocate that's out there working with families because people are scared to come forward in those cases. They fear that they're going to be harmed if they testify so we've done a lot of work in making them feel comfortable in coming forward so we can make better cases and prosecute people who have committed very serious crimes gang violence continues to be a problem in Ramsey County as elsewhere since we started our gangs and guns unit back in 1997. We prosecuted 300 game.Cases and but last year we prosecuted a half of the cases. We prosecuted the year before we are seeing a serious decline but gang violence gets the headlines they last year in st. Paul actually more than half the homicide victims in st. Paul were victims of domestic homicide that doesn't get the headlines. But the fact is that people are more unsafe in their own homes than they are walking the streets. They're much more likely to be hurt at the hands of someone that they love or no than they are by a gang shooting if you folks had to pick like the biggest crime problem facing each of your County's. What would it be Susan Garrett Nur? Well, I would I would get back to domestic violence the numbers remain horrific. And again, as I said, I've been a prosecutor for many years and it never goes away domestic violence never goes away and it never decreases and it's a sad sad.Situation and it's something that is hard to get our hands around. I mean, I'm sure I would focus on gun crime in that overlaps into many areas including domestic violence because we see if number of those cases involving guns. We have made a big effort to prosecute using the statute when a felon has a gun someone who has already been convicted of a serious crime. They are not supposed to have a Gun. There's a 5-year mandatory minimum and we've used that very effectively in the last few years on the flip side of it. As far as something that I see as a major cause and something we need to look at as a prevention effort. I would look at truancy kids not staying in school. It's not a crime but it's the kindergarten of crime and that it's the first time that it shows up that a kid maybe having trouble when they're not in school. They tend to go out and get in trouble hang out in street corners. I remember I was actually on your this radio show at one point about truancy and someone called in and said, hey, you know, I love taking my daughter out of school. You're sounding too Draconian died.Go to the museum and I take her to Orchestra concerts and I finally said let's get real these kids that are missing 20 30 days of school are not at the orchestra. They're not at the Museum. They're victims of crime. They're getting in trouble and most significantly when we look at the graduation rates in our County and Hennepin as well as in Ramsey, they're not graduating and it's hurting them and hurting all of us in the long term. So when I look at the gun crime, that's the end of the road, but I wouldn't I look at the beginning of the road of a significant issue. I see the connection between truancy and crime we're talking this hour, excuse me with Hennepin County attorney. Amy Klobuchar Ramsey County attorney Susan Garrett Nur has joined us and if you'd like to come up to the microphone here, if you have a question for the county attorney's don't be shy just step right up and if you're listening on the radio to our broadcast here from the state fair, give us a call six five. One two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities.Is one eight hundred two four two 2828 and let's go to our first caller Michael's on the line with question, Michael. High School in Minneapolis, and we have the big push this year for increasing attendance. And one of the issues that's come up is As a practical matter and you know, I don't want to get into pointing fingers or laying blame. I just want to know which battles to fight and where I have the most Leverage is that the students who are over 16 years old will be a lot harder to get them to come to school and stay in school because of various legal issues. Is that in correcting somewhat, correct gray area. I'll take my answer on the line. Yeah, Amy Klobuchar for Hennepin County here. There's been a change in the law. So that in fact unless there is an excuse given in court a kid over the age of 16 does have to attend school. I used to be that that wasn't as clear in the law that being said clearly the point to get at these kids is in junior high to start early and not wait until High School. You see a real peak, especially with boys in the junior high age where they start missing school and that's why what we've done is With the superintendent's around the county to make sure that one were measuring attendance because believe it or not. We've gotten away from that in some of our schools over the last few decades and any parent knows I see my daughter out there. I'm glad she chose to watch me instead of going to see the world's largest pig or be on the bumper cars. But anyway any do that later, yes, but any parent knows that a kid knows if you're not monitoring them if you're not watching them and that's what been happening secondly Early Intervention, which is where the teachers and people come in to identify these kids early watch him on the school have that attendance officer watching them. And then third if that doesn't work consequences quick action in the courthouse, which the judges and Hennepin County have pledged to hear these cases in three weeks in the coming year that also is going to make a difference and we've been looking at the prevention and as I know Susan has also has an excellent program going on going out to the school's doing truancy lectures bringing the parents and the kids in and telling them. These are the consequences if you don't go to Ramsey County, well, we started our truancy program back in 1995. And our first focus is Amy said needed to be on the younger kids. You see a strong spike in truancy in the middle school and Junior High School years and that's where we started our Focus you can understand why I mean, it's a scary scary time. I have a daughter starting middle school tomorrow and another one who just finishing up middle school. It's a tough time in their lives. There isn't the same kind of discipline and organization and structure that there is an elementary school. So kids start skipping and so we've really focused on that because you got to get it that behavior young but there are things we can do with the older kids. I think one thing that really wakes up kids who go through our truancy program is to learn that if they're adjudicated true and if they go to court and have missed too many days of school, they can lose their drivers license till they're 18 years old. Now that wakes kids up they respond to that they respond. That they might not listen to the lectures and this and that and you're going to be poor and you're going to be unemployed. They're going to be underemployed. But when we say and you're going to lose your license all of a sudden they pay attention. No, obviously you'd like to have all the kids go to school. But if you had a have a student who really doesn't want to be in school, isn't it more disruptive to have them in school and that's a really important question and it's one we face back in 1995. When we started this program in Ramsey County. That was some resistance for The Edge from the Educators. It's like if the kid doesn't want to be there don't place them on me. They'll only become a discipline problem. But what we found over the last five years is that it does make a difference. You can't teach a kid unless he's in the classroom and when you send that message that education matters, I think the Educators have been completely on board and we haven't heard that complaint that we expected and we're seeing incredible support from the teachers the social workers in the school because no one knows better than they do the connection between this and this Kids not doing well. You don't need a study to tell you that answer but the Studies have shown that at eight unexcused absences is when these kids start doing worse on the standardized tests. They stand a much better chance of not graduating. So they see it as a teaching issue as an issue for these kids in the in the future and I think if we take that attitude though that some of these kids are problems or they're not going to be a star in school. We as a community are letting them down and I always tell people, you know, if you see a kid, I used to be that Grandma Rose would see Johnny down the block and she know he wasn't in school. So she calls parents what we've become a more transient country in a more transient Minnesota. And so we have to look at different ways to replace that monitoring and if you know a kid's parents call the parents if you know the school the kid is supposed to be in call the school and if you don't know anything you can call the police in Minneapolis is not a crime in or is it anywhere else in the state? But that child will be brought to the truancy Curfew Center. That's run by the urban. They will contact the parents. They will contact the school. We have to monitor these kids because if we don't we're showing them that we don't care. And so we as a community have to really treat this differently 53 percent of the kids two years ago in the Minneapolis schools were legally truant. This is a huge issue Virgo or has a question for the county attorney's go ahead. Hi. My name is Tara and I live in North Minneapolis. I wanted to ask you both about something that happened yesterday. We had a couple bikes stolen and we called a police to come over and talk to us and just chatting with him. His comment was that he felt that they were very understaffed that someone had recommended for a town Minneapolis to size that twelve hundred police officers be a good amount of staff and that they only had budget for like 900 in his thoughts were that they didn't have the resources to do proactive type of policing. They could only they only had staff to respond to things so they couldn't be out there as much as they wanted to. And to keep things from happening instead of just responding to something when it happens. So just thought I'd see what your comments are on that. Well, sorry about your bike and I hope I hope they trace it down. I will say that one of the things in Minneapolis that Chief Olson is tried to do is to do what you're talking about and really change the approach as opposed to just looking at as a nine one one issue whenever there's a call have people out there proactively and I think anyone that lives in the city and for that matter a lot of our Suburban Chiefs have done this as well. You see the police not just going out and responding after the fact being being out there on the street corners. I think people see police more there on bikes are on horses. They're out in the community and he Likens it to a medical problem. You don't wait until you've had a heart attack. I took on to the doctor you go in early and do what you can to prevent a disease from coming to you. And so that's the way they look at it. And I think that there are always resources shoes, but I know what he's tried to do just as we've tried to do in our office is to try to Focus as many resources we can into that prevention because if you can lock your doors of your house, which I'm sure you did lock your car. That's the number one protection and so they have more safe officers out black leaders out trying to alert people of that prevention issue and that's what our lawyers have tried to do with Community prosecution as well be out in the community. So again that's been the focus and I hope that it expands more so that won't happen to someone else again, the the basic question you asked to the police have enough resources speaking for St. Paul Ramsey County. No way do they have enough to really really do the job that people expect of them and should expect of them. And so what they've had to do and what my office is had to do is Target our resources and for example gain prosecution a few years ago both the police and my office really focused on that we've seen an effect. It's been cut in half in Ramsey County community policing Community prosecution. It's all about focusing where the gree that greatest needs are. But I was really struck last year at National Night Out visiting a number of neighborhoods in st. Paul. What was the number one thing people wanted to talk to me about was stolen bicycles and I just I just don't think that however many years I do this job. I'm going to be able to keep everyone's bike safe and in their garage, so, you know, that's a little discouraging. Let's take another question from a listener on the phone and then we'll get back to our state fair goers here. Let's see Dylan. You're an axe. Go ahead, please. Yes, I think you I had a question about the factors that go into your decisions to prosecute juveniles as adults. I'm really glad to hear the focus that you're all talking about on looking at the antecedents of crime and trying to catch children who were falling through the cracks before they commit a crime in terms of keeping them in school. But what are the decisions that go into Prosecuting a 16 year old as an adult with seems to me basically a death sentence to say that the 16 year old has no value in the future. And will be put into an adult correctional facility which and basically as lost the opportunity to to be treated as a child who has made mistakes and could possibly be corrected. I think the caller is asked one of the most difficult questions facing our justice system today and that is how do we deal with serious juvenile offenders and fortunately in Minnesota our system does what I don't think other systems do as well and that is really focused on the particular juvenile. There is no cookie cutter answer to how we decide when to prosecute juveniles as an adult. Certainly. The number one thing we look at is how serious how heinous was the crime itself and what how will the public safety be best served, but we don't just automatically lock up for life. Every youth that commits a serious crime. We look at this the seriousness of the case. The child's history in particular. Can we still save this child or do they are they simply so dangerous? They need to go to prison but to very specifically answer the caller's question. It's all set out in the law exactly what the judge needs to consider in making that decision Columbus her Minnesota system is much more focused than some other states. I'm trying to keep kids in the juvenile system and our state was a leader in something called extended juvenile jurisdiction where you add some Middle Ground you prosecute a juvenile as an adult, but they serve in a juvenile sentence and until they're 21 that adult sentence is hanging over their head. So it gives him that second chance that being said we do whatever we can to make sure these kids are the juvenile system. But as Susan said when we see a very heinous crime as we had a case last week that came through the court system or a 17 year old has shot his mother while she's begging for her life. We can't put that kid in the juvenile system. He would be out when 18 years old we can't do that for public safety reasons. So you look at each case on an individual basis trying what you can to give these kids a second chance, but when you're on the high end, which is a small fraction of our cases where they're very serious offenders, we have to look at them differently do kids who are right on the edge of serious crime. I mean do they is there any evidence that they think a lot about the deterrence that are built into the law the long prison sentences in the rest, or is that all this something that well it's happening to somebody else. Well is part of this Juvenile Justice debate that I mentioned earlier. I what I find fascinating is some of the new research on the way teenagers think what their brain chemistry is, there's a lot of evidence that they have don't have the impulse control that other people do and so I think we're seeing a debate raging far beyond Ramsey County and that is should we really hold juveniles to the same standards as adults, but again it gets back to the public. Safety, I remember I'm often asked what's the toughest decision I've ever had to make his County attorney. And what often comes to mind is just two months after I was elected a fourteen-year-old stabbed a four-year-old to death by his own account to see what it felt like and to need to make the decision whether to seek to have that child put in the adult prison system. It's a tough call what what but we did we just given the child's background the attempts that have been made to turn his life around and just the heinousness of the offense. We were concerned that he would harm someone again if he wasn't putting adult prison. So at that time, he was the youngest inmate of the adult prison system. I'm sad to say that he long ago lost that distinction ma'am your question, please. Yes, my name is Kate Jones. I have lived in Minneapolis. I'm 30 years. My question is really less serious, but potentially more so we've had a lot of immigrants moved to the city, which I'm happy for you. Live in a neighborhood where we have a cub so a lot of people use that I have seen over and over and over again little children both in the front seat and one day one day. I went by an accident on 94 were child head had gone through the windshield and I know that kid's brain damaged, you know, and you'll see multiple children in the back seat not in car seats not restrained and I always stop and say something, you know, this child should be in a car seat, you know, but I'm sort of a one-woman. I don't know what efforts or what is the law regarding it? And what efforts are we making to stop this or do something about it? Well, unfortunately, the problem isn't limited to recent immigrants who maybe aren't familiar with our laws. I was in and I don't know you're not a one-woman crusade. I was on the Street in St. Paul a couple weeks ago and saw a woman drive by with a baby on her lap and I flagged down a police officer and I said, you know, I follow that car and because that made me so uncomfortable. I mean there's there's no question. We don't do enough to protect our children. If you have a child under the age of four they have to be in a child restraint system. And but again, it sure isn't limited to two immigrants and I would add again Susan has said we see these kinds of situations with everyone throughout the state and I when people ask me what's the most surprising thing that you've seen since you came in as County attorney, I'd say it's a truancy but it's also the incredible number of deaths from car accidents from drunk drivers and we need to look at these differently. There's been a lot of talk recently about people being distracted when they're driving and how that can cause accidents And kids not in seat belts and our County attorneys Association have been very involved in making sure that we pass tougher Drive laws Against Drunk Driving. We've had over 20 conviction since I came in for people that have killed people when they're drunk and I noticed the other day in the Star Tribune. There was a discussion about coverage of these kinds of cases when there are fatalities on the road. I think we've got to look at these differently when someone is driving negligently when someone is drunk and driving, I mean they may as well have a gun in their hand and we need to be more serious about these driving cases. It's now a felon if you have four or more DWIs was just a guy arrested last week who at 23 we need to look at these cases differently and I'm glad the legislature took that step last session. That was Hennepin County attorney. Amy Klobuchar Ramsey County attorney Susan Garrett Nur is with us and this is midday coming to you live today from the Minnesota State Fair last day of the fair are broadcasting from the Minnesota Public Radio Booth near the corner of Judd. Nelson if you come out to the fair today, make sure that you stop by say hello and enter our drawings we have lots of nifty things for sale as well. But but do stop I love to see you when you visit the booth. Make sure one of the we said there are some drawings here. One of the really what nice ones is the enter or the Toro for season lawn and garden giveaway as I understand it you get a lawn mower snow thrower trimmer and a leaf blower in the guests enter. No, well, I guess you can sure why not? No. No that's have any issue of you know, so well there could be some really good be an investigation at the Ramsey County. So just don't even try again those of you in the audience. If you have a question for the County's about county attorney's come on up to the microphone. If you're listening on the radio, give us a call six five one two, two seven six thousand six. I've won two two seven six thousand outside the Twin Cities one eight hundred two four two two eight two eight should be a nice day all day long sunny high temperature right around 80 degrees across the state of Minnesota clear tonight mid-40s to mid-50s tomorrow a repeat Sunny to partly sunny again high temperature around 80 the Twin City forecast for today sunny with a high temperature near 80 degrees as well. Yeah. I see my husband out there and I know he needs that lawn mower and snow blower. That's what he needs for the coming year back to the phones. Larry has a question for the county attorney's Larry. Go ahead. Hi. Thanks for taking my call. I was wondering what your guests would say about the effect of the economy on the crime rates. My understanding was that if the economy is doing better to the crime rates probably go down because primes less attractive alternative for income and that when people are doing a little better economically, you know, they're able to maybe Keep track of their families a little bit better and the second part of that is is there some concern that with more and more people being kicked off of welfare with five year time limits and stuff are more poor families going to be faced with looking at crime as perhaps an alternative way to at least have some sort of meager income. Thanks. There's no there's no doubt that the economy has some role in this crime reduction. I'd like to say it's all because of good prosecution, but the economy does have some role when people can get jobs when there's work out there IUD see some relation, but I've never seen a study that has pinpointed exactly what the role is and in fact some of the work that the Minneapolis Police Department has done shows that because of their change to community policing and the way they allocated resources despite how the economy was doing. They continue to see decreases in crime, but I believe it does have some role in it as far as people. The changes to the welfare law, I think some of the changes that the legislature made this session will help with that. We haven't seen as we've seen some changes with the approach to welfare. We haven't seen that corresponding change in crime. So I think that the jury is still out on that but when we look at it across the country, we just haven't seen that kind of response to the changes in the welfare laws Susan Gardener one thing about the welfare reform issue. That's really important. Is that as he said certainly the legislature made some changes to soften some of the blows but as the county attorney's office, what we needed to do is really put the pressure on our child support enforcement system as more and more people are coming off welfare. It's just that much more important that both parents provide for their children. So we really stepped up enforcement as has been true all across Minnesota because certainly the overall economy is an issue in terms of poverty, but single Parenthood is Only huge predictor if you will of poverty and so that's what we're trying to do in the child support enforcement Arena. I mentioned that because August is child support enforcement month. So I would be remiss if I didn't bring up this very important issue before the hour was up. Is there a much progress being made in that area as a practical matter? Are you you having any success getting people who would be very reluctant to pay up getting them to pay up or is it mostly just people who would otherwise comply with the law? Anyway? Oh, no, we are having a lot of success with some really fun. Well, I say fun. I've been I have not been on the other end of these tools payers probably don't have the right exactly the payers don't agree but the legislature has created some really powerful tools for child support enforcement the most recent of which we started using and Ramsey County and that is to track bank accounts and you'd be amazed at the people who claim they have absolutely no money. But when you tap into Wells Fargo's computer all of a sudden there's money there and so we've collected literally thousands and thousands of dollars in Ramsey County over the last couple months using this new tool and we've seen increases in Hennepin County with the child support numbers going way up. Some of that of course has to do with the economy, but I think the stricter enforcement also helps we've actually use the criminal prosecution for a number of cases that fit our criteria. We had probably the most notorious one was a man who owed $150,000 to his ex spouse and children back in Colorado and what he had done he had actually invested some money unlike most are Crooks that take money and use it for things like gambling or drugs or drinking. He invested his money and had a million dollars when we caught up with him and so he was actually prosecuted for embezzlement as well as non-payment of Child Support. I just got a letter from his ex-wife saying that this was the only thing that But she did get money and that made a huge difference in her life. So we have actually resorted to that in certain cases as well as using the traditional civil contempt hearings driver's license revocations all kinds of things because when these families these kids don't have money and people are willingly hiding their money from them. It is a crime and it is something that we have to look at Beyond just as a contractual matter because it affects all of us as Susan is said with the welfare system as well. We're all paying for it. Right and I want to go back to what I said about these fun tools. And what I'm talking about is those very very rare cases where you have someone who invests in an inordinate amount of energy in keeping their money hidden and we're and their children aren't being provided for certainly 99% of the people who all child support pay it regularly without any argument or any Flack but it's those few that really kind of get our creative. Juices flowing and sometimes I wonder if they invested all that much energy in providing for their children rather than hiding the money. We'd be all better off. But those are very very rare cases fairgoer has a question for the county attorney's go ahead sir. Hi, my name is Rick Yost and I'm from Minneapolis. And I had a question if you thought that there was a female bias and the county court systems. Well when I looked at our numbers and I guess I haven't looked at the the ultimate results. I don't see that kind of bias. If you're talking about for instant child support collection. We have also used the law against women is that the kind of bias you're talking about. I found myself called to come into court. It was a big surprise and I just didn't I had people tell me you know, there's a female bias here and I was I was cost a lot of money just State my case. I'd like to hear about your case after we're done here. But what we have tried to do in every way as to be fair regardless of someone's gender regardless of someone's race. We use in the criminal area the sentencing guidelines which really helps because then when a case comes in unless there's some reason for asking for a downward or upward sentence. Those are our guidelines. That's what we use we have senior attorney approval of any kinds of issues that may deviate from that and so we've tried hard to be fair and so I would like to talk to you about your case after when we have a break at some point, maybe over a Pronto pup. Let's go back to the phones and Matt has a question. Go ahead man. Hello, Matt. Oh, yes, you're on the air. Okay, I'm in Minneapolis. And it's my understanding that in Minneapolis under the code for program with at the used to pull people over for various reasons that the police have announced that here in North Minneapolis. They'll pull you over for violations that they would not pull you over for in South Minneapolis. And so they're pulling people over in different neighborhoods for different reasons. So that in South Minneapolis, they wouldn't pull you over for say I have an object suspended on your rear-view mirror and don't you think that it's fundamentally unfair to treat people differently for stopping them in different parts of the city just based on where they live and don't you think that it sends a message saying, you know and effectively North Minneapolis. It seems like you're treating races differently because they have different justifications for stopping themselves. Okay. Well be good to have someone here from the police department to explain but I'll do my best to first of all clarify one thing. When you talk about code for as it's being implemented in Minneapolis, the idea behind it is not pulling people over for a little reasons. The idea is to put resources where the most 9-1-1 calls are the other flip side of how it was at some point was saying we're not in go in that neighborhood. We don't really care what happens in that neighborhood people are killing each other anyway, and they took a whole different approach and with it come some risk, they put police officers in areas where you have more poverty where you have more crime and one result of that is you do see more arrests in those neighborhoods. And so I think that Chief Olson and others involved in policing would be the first to say that they are trying to make changes that they're looking at this from a racial perspective that needs to be done because we need to have trust in our police in our court system. I know in our office we've done a major review of what we're doing in our office to make sure that we're being fair. We've looked at our numbers we've looked at some of our policies that's actually one of the reasons. We were big Advocates on felony DWI. You look at those numbers white guy has 23 DWIs doesn't go to prison African-American guy one drug arrest goes to prison. And so when we've done is kind of look at those policies added people to our white collar crime area and looked at overall what we can do to make this more fair because there is a problem and I think also there was NPR did a forum on on racial profiling one of the things that came out of that was looking at the numbers in offices that work in the criminal justice system in terms of minority representation. So we've made a major push in that area of 40% of the attorneys. We've hired since I've been in have been people of color and so we've worked hard to change that to build that trust in the neighborhood. But as far as specific questions on a code for I hope you'll have the police chief on at some point and I'm sure he can not answer them. So to stay tuned Susan Gartner do minorities do poor people. We'll get a fair Shake in the criminal justice system. Well, that would be an hour-long minimum. Answer Gary it what I do say emphatically. Is it something we're very very concerned about when you look at the numbers percentage-wise of African-Americans and other minority persons in our prison system. It's hard to explain away and if there's something going on Beyond racism, it's my belief. I've never known a prosecutor who made a decision based on the color of the defendants skin or the victims skin, but yet we have these results and so it's something that a lot of people are spending a lot of energy trying to figure out how we can do better their goal or has a question for the county attorney's. Go ahead sir. Yeah. My name is John I'm from st. Paul Minnesota. I was trying to get back to that child support issue Miss Garrett her was on this program. I guess earlier this this year and she made statements referring a to the child support division of her. Apartment and she touted are loaded the her efforts made in getting child support yet. When I look at it. There's a very small percentage of deadbeat parents. So to say yet you'll spend all this money chasing at then in your by your own statement. It was like one percent of the population, correct? Well, what I did say is that it's a it's the small minority who work hard to avoid providing for their children. What we end up doing actually is collecting the far greatest amount of money from the easiest methods. We get the bulk of our money through income withholding. And so it's only when you have a situation say where the person isn't a wage earner or whatever you can't use some of the the easiest most non-intrusive tools that you end up having to do some other things. I mean, but if that's a very small percentage, why are you spending all these millions of dollars chasing after these folks that makes no sense to me. And I mean when you compare Hennepin County to Ramsey County the difference between the way that these the Judiciary mandates the the legislation that was set down is unbelievable. I mean, there's a case where there's one parent non-custodial parent pays $50 a month. Whereas another parent in Hennepin County pays close to $1,000. Why is that maybe you can both address that well, let me say your comment about spending millions of dollars to go after a few people that just isn't the way it works taxpayers should know the child support enforcement programs. Are you get more bang for your buck than just about any government program in existence. We collect over five dollars in Ramsey County for every dollar that we spend on child support enforcement and keep in mind that where that money's going to is kids who need to eat. Who need to have clothing to start the first day of school and not be truant. It is a very very cost effective way to provide for families fight crime down the line and I just think there's no better investment in our future than tough Child Support Enforcement of the number K. Well, that's that's that's move on to another another pointer. Matt's got a question. Go ahead man. Hi. I have a question going back to vehicular safety wondering why it is that Minnesota has such fairly Progressive seat belt laws, but no helmet law for motorcycles. Well, that's a good question for the legislature and I again, I'd like to see a helmet law but we don't have one. What we try to do is do everything that we can when we get the cases that are the felony cases where someone has killed someone because they've been drunk because they're driving in a grossly negligent way and we enforce those laws and actually Hennepin County has one of the best records in the state for the percentage of cases in which were at least getting the guideline sentence. Some people aren't happy with it. It's four years, but that's what the law calls for when someone gets killed by a drunk driver or someone who's grossly negligent. That's been our Focus out of our office. And we do what we can to advocate for more driver safety laws. We have the new felony DWI laws as you mentioned. Is anybody actually going to go to prison under that law or is given all the changes that were written into the law as it may Its way through the legislature is mostly just a question. Well folks we'll get a little jail term and end up in treatment and so on it's going to go into the go to the hoosegow. I believe that they will the law was changed and not in the original form that we had worked on out of our office, but it was changed to accommodate some of the concerns some were legitimate of treatment providers Believe It or Not these people that have 1015 DWIs. Sometimes they go in and out of the county work out so much. Some of the counties don't have the funds for treatment. They don't really get adequate treatment. So that's a hope that a margin of them will be helped. We also believe that this is going to be a big deterrent for certain percentage of these offenders. I'd heard over the legislature people saying well, they lose their hunting license at they get a felony if they have 20 DWIs, that's true. So this is a deterrent for that reason. It's a deterrent because people who don't otherwise have felonies on their records do not want to have a felony on their record. So we see this as a deterrent and a way to treat Cases more serious. It's just unbelievable to me. As I said that someone can rack up these DWIs and not have any more serious consequence in a few months in the workhouse. We need to we've imported a lot of things I'd say from Scandinavia like Anderson's and Johnson's but we have not imported. They're tough approach to drunk driving and Minnesota has not tracked the country where you've seen across the country with the reductions in deaths from drunk driving and we believe we need to change the Benchmark. So people will start seriously thinking of this not as one of our people who testified who had had a number of DWIs and then killed someone he said until he killed someone he thought of it as a traffic violation and we need to change that attitude Susan Garrett are the Star Tribune ran a series of few years ago about kind of the revolving door of Justice people who were committing dozens literally dozens of crimes many times. Are they while they were waiting to go to court on one deal. They were out committing more crimes and nothing ever seemed to happen to those people. Is that still a problem? Well, it's a problem in the sense that we'll never have enough resources to put everybody in prison. Who commits a crime when your car is stolen to you. It's a very very serious piece of business and you want that person in prison will never have the resources to do that. And I don't know if every Minnesotan would want that to be true. But what has happened in the last number of years is an increasing focus on the kind of repeat offenders you're talking about we've had new laws almost every year that have really focused on the ones who really really need to be in prison career property offenders who time and time again burglarize your home steal your car and we can put them in prison and we have both Amy's office and mine have really focused on exactly the population you're talking about the career offenders and identify them played Hardball. If you will and put them in prison for increasing lengths of time Amy Klobuchar, which is there is a law on the books when we're looking at the felons. A lot of the Star Tribune article is focused on the misdemeanors where you can't use some of these repeat felon laws in our jurisdiction. What we've done is we looked at all the computer systems you've heard about how hard it is to track the cases of I think someone Jane random one said it's easier for Target to find a pair of shoes and for us to figure out what someone's misdemeanor record is so when we see someone that comes in that have a number of felonies special prosecutor used to be a homicide prosecutor handles those cases. We've used the law that says if you have five or more felony convictions, we can get a longer sentence in 1998 that law has been used was used three times. We've used it over a hundred the judges have responded again, as Susan has said focusing the resources where we can make a difference on the people who are committing most of the crimes and then looking at some of these things like truancy prevention issues focusing there as well. Back on the focusing resources and these career criminals. It really can be done. You really can make a difference the legislature created a few years ago an auto theft prevention program which gave extra money to my office and Amy's to have people deal just with car thieves and what I've seen in the last couple years in Ramsey County is that our auto theft rate has been cut in half because what we've been doing is figuring out who are those handful of people that steal a car after car after car and put him in prison, so you really can have an effect if you target your resources on the handful of criminals the commit the overwhelming majority of crime we don't have a lot of time left, but I wanted to ask both of you about the impact if any of the Brian Heron situation over Minneapolis, so city council member who pleaded guilty to extortion all of a sudden we heard talk about corruption in our political system, which he just never heard about Or is that a is a at least low level corruption pretty rampant in Minnesota. No. I thought you were going to ask us for our last question what our favorite fair food? I end up in county that I think that has had a major effect on the trust in the political system what he did was wrong. He completely breached the trust of those that He represented and that investigation is continuing. I think that it's good that it's being thoroughly investigated that the FBI is involved at the US attorney's office has involved because you want to get all of it out so that people can feel that they know exactly what happened. You don't want to have elected officials hiding you want them to make statements and be out there on it because that's just not something I think years ago that people would think that you'd hear about in our state and it's very important when something like this happens and it does happen in every place that we respond correctly and that no one looks like they're hiding anything because you need to get all of it out so we can move on and get that kind of trust in our government again Susan. I'm not sure that I have seen any effect in many ways. St. Paul is a big small town and to Steve Ramsey County and I feel like by and large the officials public officials are trusted. I feel that the police have the confidence of the community and by and large elected officials do I think my perception is that that scene is an isolated incident one person who violated the law and it had an effect on others, but I don't see it as a poisoning of the system. So Susan Gardener, what is your favorite fair food? That's tough. Almost footlong hot dogs. I was walking in here and I thought this is how things have changed. They used to just be able to say footlong hot dogs and I was fine with that but apparently someone got out of measuring stick and got a lawyer and they had to change it to almost a foot long. Maybe Klobuchar your favorite food. I would say cheese curds and that came after my unfortunate incident the week before I started college of coming out to the state fair and chipping my tooth on a frozen banana on a stick. So now I've changed to cheese curd another lawsuit possibility there. Thanks for coming by today. Well, thanks for having us our guests this hour I Hennepin County attorney Amy Klobuchar Ramsey County attorney. Susan Garrett her joining us this first hour of our midday program. Now don't go away Howard. Sinker will be joining us over the noon hour today. Yes Howard's back for his annual Labor Day sports program get your sports questions ready. I believe Howard comes bearing particularly nice gifts this year. We'll have talk more about that over the noon hour or so stick around and stay tuned. I'm Lynn Neary the labor movements chord a minor Victory earlier this year when it derailed the nomination of Linda Chavez for Secretary of Labor. Otherwise, it's been a year of uphill battles. The biggest defeat was Al Gore's failed presidential bid. Can the labor movement get back its political Edge guest host Steve inskeep talks with labor leaders James Hoffa and John Sweeney on the next Talk of the Nation from NPR news.


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