Public Safety and the U
The safety of students, faculty, and staff is of the highest priority at the University of Minnesota. University leaders have a multipronged approach to actively promote on-campus safety, while working with our Minneapolis and other community partners to ensure proper resources are dedicated to making off-campus neighborhoods safe.
The approach is based on the four E's: education, environment, enforcement and engagement.
The U will continue to inform the campus community about safety concerns via Crime Alerts and Public Safety Updates, while collaborating with student government and other campus leaders to spread awareness among students regarding safety tips and resources. For example:
- SAFE U, a student awareness campaign that includes posters, table tents, digital signs, social media outreach and a Web presence, will heighten consciousness about the pressing issue of safety.
- The Office for Student Affairs is expanding self-defense and personal safety workshops, in addition to several for-credit options that already exist. Two are scheduled in March.
- Student Affairs is also reviewing its procedures for assisting victims of crime. While The Aurora Center actively works to assist victims of sexual violence, opportunities are being explored to better connect victims of other crimes with available University and community resources.
- The U will communicate proactively through local media and other vehicles to students, faculty, staff, parents, prospective students and others about public safety issues and efforts.
The University has identified immediate improvements and long-term opportunities for investments in the physical environment to make campus—particularly well-traveled corridors—safer.
The University has upgraded transportation by:
- Extending hours of the Campus Connector bus service between the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses to 2 a.m., seven days a week during spring semester.
- Extending the hours of the Washington Ave. Bridge Circulator and East Bank Circulator bus services to 2 a.m., Monday through Thursday.
- Implementing a new Weekend Circulator bus service between the East and West banks. The bus will run 6:30 p.m. Fridays to 2 a.m. Saturdays; 9:30 a.m. Saturdays to 2 a.m. Sundays; and 9:30 a.m. Sundays until 2 a.m. Mondays.
- Expanding the Gopher Chauffeur for a second time. The free transportation service will operate from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights during spring semester.
The U will also address highly traveled pathways on and surrounding campus by:
- Changing light fixtures from yellow sodium bulbs to white metal halide bulb—to increase the brightness and consistency of light—along the campus side of University Avenue between 12th and Oak streets.
- Developing a plan to improve lighting in other high-traveled corridors, including Church Street north of Washington Avenue.
- Continuing to work with Xcel Energy to fix burnt out or other problem lighting fixtures off campus.
- Developing a plan to add security cameras on highly traveled pedestrian routes (e.g., University Avenue and Church Street).
- Facilities and grounds crews also assessed landscaping on campus and found no need for immediate changes to ensure visibility and safe corridors.
Work is under way to balance the University’s traditionally public and open buildings with current security realities:
- A new building access program will be in place by the end of the spring semester. The program aims to increase Twin Cities campus security by reducing the number of hours that campus buildings are open to the general public while ensuring that current students, faculty and staff have access to facilities when they need it.
- Contract work for converting all academic buildings on the Twin Cities campus to electronic card access has begun. Upgrades will allow the University to control building access more consistently and remotely.
- A pilot program began in selected buildings on the West Bank on Feb. 3. The remaining buildings on the West Bank will be changed in the middle of spring semester, and the rest of the Twin Cities campus will be changed this summer. It involves changes to 93 buildings and many more doors.
The University will continue to deploy undercover and uniformed police patrols on campus—and off campus in conjunction with other local law enforcement—to deter people seeking to do harm, to prevent crimes and to catch criminals. Targeted and aggressive patrols on campus and in adjacent neighborhoods by UMPD, in collaboration with partner agencies, have resulted in more than 44 arrests and citations since September.
Recent or new initiatives include:
- UMPD officers have logged more than 662 hours of overtime since mid-October, including during key evening hours in neighborhoods around campus on both the East and West banks.
- UMPD added three officers in mid-December, increasing its ranks to 50.
- UMPD will add four officers to existing department resources from 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays during the spring semester.
- University Services and UMPD will add 20-30 additional student staff to the Security Monitor Program to reach a total of 150 staff, while increasing the hourly pay rate for student monitors.
- UMPD will continue to collaborate with the Minneapolis Police Department 2nd Precinct, the Metro Transit Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota State Patrol.
- The U stands in support of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges' stated goal of increasing the Minneapolis police force and will continue to build a working relationship with Minneapolis' new administration.
The campus and surrounding neighborhoods will all be safer when everyone plays a role in promoting and encouraging safety. University leaders are committed to strengthening these partnerships by:
- Hosted a student safety "Town Hall" meeting on Feb. 26 where President Eric Kaler, Vice President Pam Wheelock, and Vice Provost and Dean of Student Danita Brown Young discussed public safety concerns and suggestions with students. View a recording of the event.
- Engaging with African American students, faculty and staff at a Jan. 29 forum to discuss campus safety, the impact of racial profiling and racial stereotypes on campus climate, and ways to address these issues together in our community.
- Convening a metro-wide "Public Safety Strategy Session" with law enforcement agencies, public safety experts and civic leaders on Jan. 28. At the session, short- and long-term strategies were agreed to. More information is available here.
- Focusing University outreach to nearby neighborhoods, landlords and the business community, to encourage them to develop and implement their own local safety-related investments.
- Advocating for federal and state legislation mandating "kill switch" technology and other measures to discourage the resale of stolen electronic devices.
Resources for students
Many safety resources for students such as the Gopher Chauffeur free transportation service and 612-624-WALK—the free 24-hour campus safety escort service—can be found on the What You Can Do page.
Ensuring fair policing
Our aggressive law enforcement is paying off, and we are apprehending suspects. Through this process, we may stop some potential suspects who ultimately will not be issued a citation or arrested. This can raise concerns about racial profiling, which is a very serious national problem. The University has no tolerance for racial profiling, and any reports of it will be investigated. See the UMPD policy (PDF) regarding racial/bias-based profiling.
Since 2002 the University has invested nearly $16 million in campus security systems. Many resources are now in place to monitor, promote and ensure safety on the Twin Cities campus:
- TXT-U, the University of Minnesota emergency notification text messaging system.
- Security monitors: 1,700 security cameras on the Twin Cities campus, monitored 24 hours a day.
- Secured buildings: 158 buildings with U Card access and 2,600 doors with card access readers.
- Code Blue Emergency Telephones: 20 phones provide instant two-way communication with University Police with the push of a button. Located throughout the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses.
- 267 emergency intercom buttons, located in the stairways of most parking structures on the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. Callers are immediately connected to an operator at the University's Police Security Emergency Command Center (PSECC).
- Coordinated efforts: With professionals in law enforcement, emergency preparedness and security, the U's Department of Public Safety comprises Central Security, Emergency Management and the University of Minnesota Police Department.
- Crime alerts: Delivered in accordance with the federal Clery Act for colleges and universities, crime alerts issued by UMPD serve as an important tool for sharing information, increasing awareness and promoting safety among the University community. While this may make it appear that crime levels at the U and in surrounding neighborhoods are significantly different than in other areas of Minneapolis and the Twin Cities metro area, a higher level of communication from the U is important to the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors.
Crime alerts and public safety updates
Faculty, staff and students on the Twin Cities campus automatically receive emailed Crime Alerts and Public Safety Updates. Individuals who are not part of the University but would like to receive these emails may subscribe to updates.