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Officers talk pot, funding, assistance with legislators

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Tim Clements met with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and other legislators during a trip to Washington, D.C., about funding for Byrne-JAG grant. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Tim Clements from the Detroit Lakes area was one of 25 police officers from around the state that attended the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Washington D.C. fly-in.

“This was an opportunity to meet with our congressional representatives and not only see what they have been supporting in reference to public safety, but to also give them a perspective of what Minnesota police officers are requesting their support on,” Clements said.

The group of officers flew into Washington D.C. and within a few hours of arriving, met with the director of the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, B. Todd Jones. Jones has a Minnesota connection, as he served as a U.S. attorney in Minnesota prior to becoming ATF director. He gave to officers a briefing of the direction the ATF is going then opened the floor to questions and comments about how the ATF can assist law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota.

The next meeting was with the Drug Enforcement Administration director Michele Leonhart, who was born and raised in Minnesota. She gave the group a briefing on what has been some of the DEA’s top priorities.

The next morning, the officers were off to the capitol to meet with the Minnesota congressional delegation. Throughout the day, officers met with seven of Minnesota’s eight members of congress and both senators.

“We discussed the need to continue the Byrne-JAG grant money, which is an essential funding source for our drug task forces in the state,” Clements said. “Senator Amy Klobuchar has been a very important advocate of this grant. As a former prosecutor, Sen. Klobuchar has firsthand knowledge of its importance in the fight to keep illegal drugs off our streets. She is committed to supporting and funding this important legislation.”

Other topics discussed were the federal assistance that goes to all law enforcement agencies to assist in purchasing ballistic vests for officers. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was very interested to find out that funding for ballistic vests is inadequate, and vowed to look into the amount that Minnesota receives.

Minnesota’s congressional representatives were made aware of changes needed in the Nick’s Law that would assist in preventing people with psychological issues from purchasing firearms.

The legislators were extremely interested in the law enforcement view of medical marijuana.

“As a group, we are opposed to current Minnesota legislation as it is written,” Clenents said. “We do support the legislation that requests the Mayo Clinic to provide a study on any possible medical benefits.

“There was a wide variety of topics that were brought up and discussed. Our legislators all commented on the need for the people of Minnesota to speak up and let them know what is on their mind. We may not agree on all issues, but all of our Washington representatives do support public safety.”