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Law enforcement, neighborhood improvements among action steps discussed at Public Safety Strategy Session

University, City, County, State, MetroTransit and other leaders identify strategies to enhance safety on campus and in near campus neighborhoods

January 28, 2014

New short- and long-term public safety strategies for the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus community and nearby neighborhoods were developed at a Public Safety Strategy Session, hosted today by the University.

“The strategies discussed today reinforce that we share a responsibility for ensuring a culture of safety,” said U of M Vice President for University Service Pamela Wheelock. “We appreciate that leaders and elected officials from the City of Minneapolis, State of Minnesota, as well as law enforcement partners have joined us to develop steps that will make neighborhoods near the U a safer place for students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Opening remarks from U of M President Eric Kaler and an overview of current public safety activities, recent crime data and neighborhood growth provided a baseline for discussion.

“If people are safe – and feel safe – we will thrive as a great University, an attractor and importer of talent and an engine for economic development,” said Kaler. “This is critical to all of us because the health and vitality of the city, region and state is also tied to that of the University. Our goal for a safer campus and neighborhoods is one that I’m confident we all share.”

Participants of today’s session acknowledged that many of the University led strategies employed over the last few months have made a tangible impact on public safety on and around campus. Attendees not only suggested ways to build on those initiatives, but also identified avenues for new opportunities.

Inspector Kathy Waite, Minneapolis 2nd Precinct, which includes the Como, Prospect Park and Marcy-Holmes neighborhoods near campus, said that her Precinct is adding 7 additional officers, 6 of whom will be on the street in early February. Kaler applauded this commitment, noting that currently 30 percent of the UMPD’s calls are off campus.

Breakout discussions outline priorities and potential next steps including, among others:

Help students become better neighborhood citizens and take ownership in public safety solutions.

  • Encourage student engagement with neighborhood associations, including holding board positions or getting involved in other ways.
  • Create stronger relationships between students and landlords while working to inform students of University resources that can help in that effort.
  • Develop comprehensive communication strategy with touch points to students during their first and second years, as they transition on to the Twin Cities campus and into surrounding neighborhoods.

Strengthen collaboration among agencies and engage with students living off campus

  • Create opportunities for law enforcement agencies to interact more frequently with students living in surrounding neighborhoods and with student leadership.
  • Coordinate deployment of law enforcement resources to maximize coverage.
  • Continue the multi agency, collaborative meeting with Minneapolis’ 2nd Precinct to further information sharing and coordination. 

Prepare for Green Line Light Rail Transit opening

  • Work to ensure that students are aware of their surroundings, including crossing streets safely.
  • Provide safety information and tips to students and parents during orientation, on campus tours and Welcome Week.
  • Work with MetroTransit on an education initiative similar to existing program in place for high school students.
  • Create an “ambassadors” program to help visitors navigate campus during large events when Light Rail transit is heavily used. 

Pursue infrastructure and environmental improvements in the neighborhoods

  • Create a new, expanded special service district to include both residences and businesses and coordinate efforts across Stadium Village and Dinkytown to address safety issues.
  • Make it easier for students to request an escort, report suspicious behavior or needed neighborhood improvements by adding text capabilities.
  • Offer training on safe environmental design for key stakeholders, including students and neighbors.
  • Upgrade lighting along key off-campus corridors, such as University Avenue, in Dinkytown and Stadium Village.

“While nothing will completely eliminate crime in our urban neighborhoods, continuing to work together to find short- and long-term solutions to this problem will definitely make us all safer,” Wheelock said.

For updates about the University’s public safety efforts, as well as important safety information, go to umn.edu/prepared.

Twin Cities Campus: