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Rising crime on campus has 'U' officials investing in new safety strategies

University officials have made public safety a priority this year by investing in extra security measures both on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

MINNEAPOLIS — From the beginning of this year to June, Minneapolis police have investigated 96 violent crimes near the University of Minnesota and Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, compared to just 40 during the same time last year. 

That's a 140% increase and underscores the importance of extra safety measures. and as students return back to campus, safety is top of mind.

"There's been an uptick in crime in areas surrounding campus, getting lots of concerns in emails and phone calls from parents and students," said James Farnsworth, a member of the university's Board of Regents, representing the 4th Congressional District. 

The rise in criminal activity is why university officials have made public safety a priority this year, investing in extra security measures both on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

"Yeah I've seen a lot of cops driving around at night for sure," said sophomore Keagan Eng. 

"It was important for the university to be responsive to that so that's where administration stepped in with a variety of strategies," said Farnsworth. 

Those strategies include hiring extra police, adding more 24-hour surveillance cameras and extra blue light safety kiosks.

They've also made the RAVE Guardian Campus Safety App more accessible to all students and staff, providing a virtual walking buddy with a direct connection to 911.  

"I feel a lot better about that," said Eng. 

But what's unsettling for some university parents is the thought of these strategies being short lived.

"The parent group has been told that it's going to expire on October 1st and there's absolutely zero reason to believe anything is going to be different on October 2nd," said a concerned parent who didn't want to be identified. 

According to the university's Board of Regents, the only strategy set to end in October is the university's partnership with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department, which is currently supplying additional deputies on campus.

"We can make adjustments if we feel like they're needed and we can allocate more resources for things like more officers, more safety infrastructure - that type of thing," said Farnsworth. 

The Board of Regents is set to meet on Sept. 9 and 10 at 8 a.m. to discuss the current safety strategies the university is implementing. 

For a link to the meeting's livestream click here.

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