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Harsher Penalties For Carjackings Key Part Of House GOP's Public Safety Plan

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Republican lawmakers in the Minnesota House outlined Tuesday a public safety plan that includes a crackdown on crime and harsher penalties for carjackings.

Over the last two years, the Twin Cities has been plagued by a surge in carjackings. GOP lawmakers hope that their plan to curb carjackings gets bipartisan support.

Earlier Tuesday, several Republican House lawmakers gathered in the Capitol rotunda and outlined their three priorities for public safety: crime prevention, officer recruitment and retention, and strengthening accountability for the criminal justice system.

Part of the plan would invest $20 million into police tools, such as ShotSpotters for Ramsey County and body cameras for all officers, especially those in smaller agencies.

The Republican lawmakers also want to make carjacking a more severe crime that would come with a harsher punishment. Additionally, they are calling for stricter sentences for repeat offenders.

They say crime in the Twin Cities affects all Minnesotans, even those that don't live in the metro.

"Minnesotans are tried of having to look over their shoulder every time they go to the grocery store parking lot to see if something is going to happen to them," said Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge. "They want to be able to come down to watch a Twins game or go to a concert, and not have to worry and be scared. In my community, they are not even going to Minneapolis anymore, they are avoiding it."

While Democrats hold the majority in the House, both sides want to invest more in body cameras and other technologies to improve public safety. However, DFL lawmakers want the money to go beyond policing, into things such as victim recovery services and restorative justice programs.

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