The spring semester just began at the University of Minnesota, but crime on and around campus has been one of the most attended to topics so far. Now, race is too.
Last semester, campus police issued multiple crime alerts amid a string of robberies and assaults, but the way police describe suspects has aroused the anger of those who fear such information contributes to racial profiling.
On Wednesday, University of Minnesota police confirmed that regardless of the mounting anger, they won't change their practices.
Just a day earlier, U officials and law enforcement personnel detailed a plan to improve campus safety through a variety of initiatives.
Additionally, Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock sent a public safety update to students, faculty and staff at the Twin Cities campus on Tuesday that explained how the U has used lighting technology to address problem areas. Her full statement can be found below.
In an effort to keep you informed and help you take an active role in the safety of our campus and surrounding neighborhoods, here's the latest on the University's public safety efforts.
On Tuesday, President Kaler and I convened a Public Safety Strategy Session that brought together student and administrative leaders from within the University, elected and appointed officials from the City of Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota, and our law enforcement partners. As we hoped, the group engaged in discussions that generated a number of ideas to build on existing University safety initiatives, and identified some great new opportunities.
It was exciting to hear that the Minneapolis Second Precinct (which includes the Como, Prospect Park and Marcy-Holmes neighborhoods near campus) will be adding seven additional officers in early February. Hats Off to Mayor Betsy Hodges, the City Council, Police Chief Janee Harteau and Second Precinct Inspector Kathy Waite for their impressive and obvious commitment to safety in the neighborhoods close to campus.
Click here for a nice overview of the Safety Strategy Session and an outline of the potential next steps discussed.
While the Safety Strategy Session generated some great ideas and the University has been promoting safety tips in a new public awareness campaign, I've also heard from many members of the University Community who have their own creative and practical thoughts on the subject of campus safety. Now, we've developed a short form to collect them. If you have ideas, suggestions, or thoughts on how we can improve campus safety, please go to the Safe U website and share them.
Early last week, President Kaler sent a campus-wide email detailing the University's multi-pronged approach to promote safety on and near the Twin Cities campus. The approach involves multiple University offices along with student government, local law enforcement agency partners, public officials and nearby neighborhoods, and is focused on four areas: education, environment, enforcement and engagement. If you haven't read it yet, I'd encourage you to do so.
You'll hear more in the coming weeks about specific plans like our building access pilot program, improved camera coverage, and other initiatives. But I wanted to be sure you know that work is already underway to improve the lighting on campus, particularly on well-traveled corridors and pathways.
Over the past two weeks, crews have installed white metal halide bulbs in fixtures along University Avenue between 12th Avenue and Oak Street. White metal halide lamps are one of the most efficient sources of white light and provide up to 100 lumens per watt – twice that of mercury vapor lights and three to five times that of incandescent lights. The next area of focus to improve lighting is in other high-traveled corridors, including Church Street north of Washington Avenue.