Minn. state patrol begins 10-day crackdown on speeders
The program will ramp up patrols in an effort to clamp down on aggressive driving and criminal activity
By Mara H. Gottfried
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
MINNEAPOLIS — State troopers are turning up the heat on speeding drivers and criminal activity on highways around Minneapolis.
The 10-day effort, called Highway Enforcement for Aggressive Traffic (HEAT), begins Monday night and will continue each evening from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., the Minnesota State Patrol announced. The focus will especially be Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and Interstate 694.
The State Patrol said people should expect to see more troopers on the highways, in addition to increased use of State Patrol helicopters.
"Some drivers are speeding for no reason, while others are fleeing police after committing a crime," said Col. Matt Langer, Minnesota State Patrol chief. "These HEAT patrols will increase our presence on the freeways so we can stop speeders and catch criminals who attempt to escape. If you don't pull over we're going to find you with our aviation assets."
The State Patrol met last week with the associations of the Minnesota police chiefs and sheriffs, and discussed how the State Patrol "could expand its efforts to support local law enforcement agencies as they address crime in their communities," the agency said in a statement.
Two people were injured in separate shootings on I-94 in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center last Monday.
Communities United Against Police Brutality issued a statement Monday questioning the areas covered in the enforcement.
The area of focus on I-94 "runs through communities of color including North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center," Communities United Against Police Brutality said in a statement.
"There is no evidence that people are more prone to speeding or committing crimes on the targeted stretch of highway than on any other," the group said, adding that they condemn "all discriminatory law enforcement activities and specifically ... the State Patrol's HEAT program" and called for it to be curtailed.
HIGH NUMBER OF TRAFFIC FATALITIES LAST YEAR
There were 500 traffic fatalities across Minnesota last year, the highest number since 2007 when there were 510 traffic deaths, according to preliminary information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety. Speed was the largest contributing factor in fatal traffic crashes last year.
Minnesota has seen 20 fatal crashes this year, compared with 30 at this time last year.
There have been various cases of people fleeing from law enforcement in the Twin Cities, including an 18-year-old and 19-year-old who are charged with evading authorities for about 45 minutes in a half-dozen metro jurisdictions before arriving at a St. Paul residence, where they were arrested in January.
They are accused in a carjacking spree that spanned 10 days across multiple counties and involved 27 victims.
(c)2022 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)