U of M crime: Students threaten to "take matters into our own hands," demand more cops

For many students, the possibility more police equals more busted-up parties is a lesser concern than getting campus' crime problem under control.
For many students, the possibility more police equals more busted-up parties is a lesser concern than getting campus' crime problem under control.

:::: UPDATE :::: U of M student says two men tried to abduct her near TCF Bank stadium

Here's a new one -- college students actually demanding more cops hang out around campus.

RELATED: U of M student says she saw creepy cop impersonator on West Bank earlier this month

But that's the state of affairs at the University of Minnesota, where a rash of high-profile crimes has pushed a group of students to the breaking point.

In a petition signed by more than 3,000 people as of this morning, Sara Gottlieb and Rachel Sadowsky write:

The recent crime incidents have interfered with our ability to learn: we are not able to go to libraries to study at night because we are afraid to walk home afterwards. We are hesitant to go to night classes for the same reason. We feel imprisoned in our own homes for fear of what could happen to us if we leave. Nowhere feels safe anymore.

"As these incidents unfold, it appears as though the University is doing nothing but sending out crime alerts that remind us to stay in groups and not listen to music as we walk at night. That is not enough." the petition continues. "We are demanding an increase in police presence both on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods to combat this crime. Our campus is a part of the city of Minneapolis, and it is absolutely imperative that the two police forces collaborate to reach the common goal of increasing campus safety."

What will students do if they deem officials' response to be unsatisfactory? From the petition:

If steps are not taken immediately, we, the students, will take matters into our own hands. Many of us are applying to transfer because we cannot tolerate feeling so unsafe and vulnerable. As graduates of Minnesota public school systems that send dozens of high school graduates to the University of Minnesota each year, we will go out of our way to reach out to our communities and urge students not to apply here. We will present the signatures on this petition to the media and inform them of the recurring issues. Bad publicity is certainly not something the University needs at this time.

But in a press release addressing the recent crime surge, U of M officials argue they're doing all they can to bring the problem under control. From the release:

In the week since President Eric Kaler pledged enhanced measures to increase safety, University Police officers have logged more than 100 hours of overtime, Boynton Health Service has expanded the Gopher Chauffeur service to include Thursday nights and the UMPD Coordinated Response Team has continued its work with the Minneapolis Second Precinct that resulted in seven arrests in two different incidents. Last Friday night, President Kaler accompanied UMPD on a ride-along from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. to witness first-hand the variety of challenges officers face.

Earlier today, President Kaler and Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock met with Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges to discuss campus safety and other University issues. Last week, Wheelock and University Police Chief Greg Hestness met with Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau to discuss University concerns and how to enhance joint efforts to ensure safety near and on campus.

"Police presence alone won't ensure campus and neighborhood safety," the release concludes. "Work must continue to build a culture of shared responsibility for safety among students, faculty and staff."

h/t -- MPR

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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