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Gov. Tim Walz and other state officials provided an update on law enforcement presence and crimes across the state on Thursday.

Walz addressed an array of topics, ranging from State Patrol HEAT patrols, fentanyl pills moving through the state, firearms and street racing.

He also confirmed that the increased presence of state law enforcement – including the Minnesota State Patrol and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension – in the Twin Cities will remain until at least the end of the year to combat violent crime.

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the BCA, Metro Transit police and the State Patrol attended the press conference with the governor.

"When it comes to crime, we need to all work together to solve this. That's state, local, county and its individuals — we're seeing great help from our partners in different organizations and creative thinking," Walz said.

Here's what state officials discussed Thursday:

HEAT Patrols

Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Minnesota State Patrol troopers have been "successful" with HEAT patrols that began in May.

According to Harrington, their primary focus has been on "the most aggressive drivers."

"An example of that would be the other day, troopers stopped a guy who was [driving 111 mph] in a 55 [mph zone]," the commissioner said.

The State Patrol has stopped over 500 drivers dating back to the beginning of September. Harrington said the majority of the traffic stops were related to speeding and it remains a top goal to continue to decrease in frequency as it's the leading cause for crashes and driver safety in the state.

The State Patrol recently announced it would be extending HEAT patrols through December.

Street Racing

Walz noted how street racing has been a phenomenon not only in Minnesota but in other states as well.

Harrington said the most challenging task in addressing street racers is predicting where they're going to show up next.

"It's a little bit of a whack-a-mole game, frankly," Harrington said. "They show up in one parking lot, and if they see anything that looks like law enforcement they quickly huddle together and [law enforcement] finds them in another parking lot."

In August, nine people were charged with street racing in downtown Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. The crime has been one of the main focuses of Minnesota law enforcement with their increased showing.

Harrington said he hopes the message isn't only being reached to local street racers but others across the country.

Firearms, Violent Crime

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said multiple agencies have continued to team up to address homicides, gun-related crimes, felony warrants and other criminal activity that relates to violent crime. 

Many of the recent firearms that have been seized have happened in Minneapolis. However, Harrington said the initiative is happening all over the state.

The U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger announced in May that his office would be taking on a larger role in leading a federal crackdown on violent crime in the state. In an update in August, Luger said around 35 "high-risk violent offenders" have been charged.

Evans said since May, nearly 400 felony arrests, 244 illegal firearms have been taken off the streets — including "ghost guns."

The BCA has also entered information on more than 500 firearms into its database. The knowledge of these firearms has made leads on more than 300 cases, according to Evans. 

"That's a third of the cases of all the work we do at the BCA," Evans noted.

Auto sear switches, devices that turn a semi-automatic firearm into a fully-automatic firearm, continue to be recovered by the agency. 

Fentanyl

Evans said since the initiative began this spring, over 19,000 fentanyl pills have been recovered in Minnesota.

"It shows us the strong nexus of the fentanyl pills we are recovering, which are counterfeit oxycodone pills that include fentanyl and are highly dangerous to individuals who are using them," Evans stated.

Law enforcement agencies are also finding fentanyl closely associated with violent crime.

In addition, a new type of fentanyl — called "rainbow fentanyl" — has been making its way around the state. The drug has a candy appearance to it.

Rainbow fentanyl

Rainbow fentanyl

The pills were recently taken in during a search warrant in Mankato last week by the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force, according to Evans. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) put out an alert in late August.

Evans noted a 20% jump in the discovery of fentanyl in Minnesota BCA crime labs in the last year.

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