Walz gains Duluth Police Department perspective on ride-along

20 July 2023

DULUTH Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he didn’t see any action during his ride-along with Duluth police officer Jackie Groshens on Thursday afternoon. But he did learn her perspective on what she experiences during her more eventful shifts.

“(She said) we’re seeing an uptick in opioid addictions, fentanyl,” Walz told the News Tribune later that afternoon during an editorial board meeting. “We’re seeing those things kind of escalate. And where you have the fentanyl and the drugs, you have guns.”

Walz referenced gun violence specifically the fatal shooting of Fargo police officer Jake Wallin a week ago when stressing that the ride-along he took wasn’t the same as the patrols many police officers make every day.

“It’s tough work. Doing a ride-around in Duluth with the State Patrol right behind me is not what these folks are going through,” Walz said. “We are going to bury Officer Wallin on Saturday, and he was responding to a traffic accident in the middle of the day in Fargo. We’re not downplaying the dangers of this job.”

Walz mentioned the various ways in which his administration and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor-controlled Legislature have worked to aid law enforcement agencies in Minnesota battle a labor shortage, such as local government aid increases, tuition assistance and extra funding for the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

But the centerpiece of that assistance, which grew from the last Legislative session, is $300 million in flexible public safety dollars that organizations can use to meet their individual needs.

Walz said he enjoyed his time during the ride-along, getting to know Groshens and learning the obstacles that she and her fellow officers face.

““It was great. She was fantastic,” Walz said. “(I) asked her how she got into it a six-year veteran. … She was basically a social worker, because she wanted to help folks. And she said, quite honestly, that the entry point to mental health issues now is the police department. She was really sophisticated about how she approached it … what it’s going to take to respond.”

Walz said Groshens kept coming back to two main issues that she sees on Duluth’s streets and in its homes.

“It will many times involve dependency issues or mental health,” he said. “And domestic violence has always been there, and domestic issues.”

They agreed that more background work on mental health and chemical dependency is needed, to prevent dangerous situations from arising in the first place. Walz stressed that it doesn’t mean cutting money from police and adding more money to social work, but rather “making sure we are marrying those two things together.”


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