By Jessica Bringe

An increasingly high number of car jackings that can lead to violent incidents has Minnesota law enforcement concerned.

A roundtable was held on Monday facilitated by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar to discuss how to prevent the crime she says can happen to anyone.

Sen. Klobuchar said, "Like the man who pulled over to check a strange noise in his car, tried to figure it out, you can imagine that could happen to anyone. He was car jacked, kidnapped, held hostage, severely beaten, forced to drive his captors to an ATM to withdrawal money from his bank account and somehow he miraculously got out of it and survived. Cases like these are horrifying."

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association participated in the discussion. Executive Director Jeff Potts said car jackings aren't stand alone crimes with car thefts and aggravated assaults typically tied in.

The association says there's been a more than 20% increase in auto thefts since last year and a 30% increase in aggravated assault numbers from 2019 to 2021 across the state.

It's part of the reason why the senator is urging the DOJ to prioritize resources for state and local law enforcement to address increases in car jackings.

Klobuchar added,  "People shouldn't have to endure that kind of trauma simply because they happen to be at a certain place at a certain time. As a former prosecutor I know that keeping our communities safe requires close coordination between local, state and federal partners."

Potts says staffing shortages also impact crime response and investigations.

He explained, "The vacancy rate in Minnesota for law enforcement is around 20%. So, we're typically around 11,000 officers. Right now there's at least 20% vacancy around the state and we're really struggling to find people who want to do this work."

The senator is pushing her bipartisan Cops Reauthorization Act which would provide grants for local law enforcement to hire and train new officers according to her office.