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New BCA Violent Crime Reduction Unit launches, already seeing success

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is leading efforts to reduce violent crime statewide. Now, a new unit within the BCA is stepping up the fight by leveraging a targeted approach and local partnerships.

The Violent Crime Reduction Unit (VCRU) launched at the beginning of 2024. It grew from an earlier effort called the Violent Crime Reduction Support Initiative (VCRSI) that began in April 2022. At that time, the BCA provided strategic resources including agents, criminal intelligence analysts and forensic scientists in support of local partners, who were seeing a spike in violent crime while also facing staffing shortages. They used a three-pronged approach to reduce crime: arresting repeat violent offenders, confiscating guns and pulling drugs off the street.

From April 2022 through December 2023, the team, in conjunction with local partners, saw remarkable success using this approach, making 1,384 arrests and confiscating:

• 653 firearms

• 145,070 fentanyl pills

• 220 pounds of meth

• Large quantities of other drugs including cocaine, heroin and MDMA.

It became clear this approach was successful in reducing violent crime and making communities safer. Lawmakers provided funding to create the new VCRU to build upon this effort. The unit, at full strength, will include 14 BCA agents, one firearms detection K-9, two criminal intelligence analysts, two crime victim/witness coordinators and 11 task force officers from a dozen local partner agencies. They will work out of a new, centralized location that is being outfitted now. This new space will allow the VCRU to respond quickly in support of local partners in the Twin Cities Metro Area and beyond.

The new unit launched in January 2024 and has already been making a positive impact. So far in 2024, the unit has arrested 112 wanted criminals and confiscated:

• 66 firearms

• 2,650 fentanyl pills

• 9.2 pounds of meth

“We know that crime does not respect jurisdictional boundaries. That’s why it’s so important we work with our partners in this holistic approach to reducing violent crime. We can follow the criminals, guns and drugs where ever they go and pull them off the street before they can be used in a crime or hurt someone,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans. “We are proud to stand up this new unit and have them get to work on making Minnesota safer.”

The agencies that will have officers and deputies assigned to the VCRU include the Ramsey and Anoka County sheriff’s offices and the Fridley, St. Louis Park, Columbia Heights, Crystal, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Maplewood, North St. Paul, Roseville and Robbinsdale police departments.

“We are grateful to our local partners for their willingness to tackle this issue with us and look forward to seeing the continued success this unit will achieve,” said Evans.

 

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