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Jesse Ventura: Crime
By Laura McCallum
September 1, 1998

Click for audio RealAudio 2.0 14.4
Part of Election '98

JESSE VENTURA LIKES TO PORTRAY HIMESELF AS A political outsider with a different take on many issues. Crime is no exception. While most of the gubernatorial candidates declare they'll crack down on crime as governor, Ventura insists it's a local issue.

Ventura: I remember I did Barbara Carlson's show and she said, "If you become governor, what are you gonna do about crime?" And I looked at her and said, "Nothing!" "NOTHING??" I said, "Yes, nothing. That's the local job."
Ventura says he successfully tackled crime during his four years as mayor of Brooklyn Park. He describes a city overrun with crime when he took office in 1991, and says he told local police that was unacceptable.
Ventura: I rode with my cops. I had a standard policy in Brooklyn Park that I would show up unannounced and I'd just walk in and say, "Call a squad," because I wanted to see. It's one thing to talk about crime when you're a politician, say, "Oh, I'm gonna fight crime." How? When are they on the street? You know, how are they gonna fight crime? When's the last time any of them ever packed a piece and went out there and caught somebody? They wouldn't know crime, most of them, if it came up and bit 'em on the ass.
Ventura's claims of crime reduction in Brooklyn Park don't completely ring true. The city was recognized for prevention initiatives like its widespread National Night Out activities, but the city's overall crime rate inched up along with its population while Ventura was in office.

Still, there's no question Ventura is more comfortable around firearms than the average politician. A former Navy Seal who served two tours of duty in Southeast Asia, Ventura has his own definition of gun control.

Ventura: Being able to put two rounds into the same hole from 25 meters! That's gun control.

All kidding aside, Ventura says people who own handguns should know what they're doing. So along with right-to-carry laws, he supports training requirements and waiting periods.
Ventura: I have no problem with making it stringent to get them. But I do not want them taken away and I do not want them registered. Because registering - who was the last great person who registered guns? Hitler.
Ventura's other positions on crime are wide-ranging. He says the state should stop prosecuting consenual crimes like prostitution and drug possession, and he scoffs at "country club" prisons that provide education, computers, and recreation to inmates. On his Web site under crime, he lists just two opinions, on issues that haven't come up in this gubernatorial race: he supports the death penalty and the medical use of marijuana.