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University of Minnesota updates 'Gopher Safety Plan' to address growing crime

According to UMPD, violent incidents in neighborhoods near campus have increased 45 percent since the start of the pandemic.

MINNEAPOLIS — An update presented to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Wednesday covered several changes to the school's "Gopher Safety Plan," including a push for more campus police officers.

Senior vice president for finance and operations Myron Frans said university president Joan Gabel authorized 10 new community service officers to provide additional uniformed presence on campus during peak times. 

Frans also said the university already added two new police positions, with a goal of increasing the UMPD staff to 66 officers total. Funding for those jobs was approved in the school's annual budget but filling those jobs is challenging because of the current state of the job market. That's why the U's plan also includes hiring a recruiter to help.

"We need to compete with other police departments around the Twin Cities," Frans said. "Different jurisdictions are attracting candidates and so we need to be mindful that we are in a very competitive marketplace."

Frans said, as incentive, the U is offering UMPD officers retention bonuses, providing specialized training, and considering additional benefits to include in future labor negotiations with unions.

"You have to not only maintain a competitive salary, you have to make sure that you provide an atmosphere and a department that people want to come and work," Frans said.

The safety plan also includes growing partnerships between the U and local businesses and a new "strategic safety advisory committee" that would be made up of students, parents, faculty, police and staff.

Frans says there are currently 3,500 surveillance cameras on campus. The U plans to add blue light cameras off campus in the Dinkytown area and near Pillsbury Court, which is west of Dinkytown.

The Board of Regents will not meet in August. The next meeting is scheduled to happen in September.

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