MINNEAPOLIS — Students and parents will join the University of Minnesota Police Department for a second Safety Walk near campus Friday night, ahead of Parent and Family Weekend.
The first Safety Walk happened over Homecoming weekend.
Erin Brumm, a parent and board of director for the non-profit Campus Safety Coalition, said she expects a good crowd for Friday's event.
"I think a key piece is visibility," Brumm said, "and there's a fantastic police force in UMPD."
Crime in neighborhoods near campus has been a major concern for at least three years now, with several high-profile incidents particularly in Dinkytown. UMPD Chief Matt Clark has noted a significant increase in violence near campus compared to 2019.
However, Minneapolis Police statistics show a mixed bag in neighborhoods such as Marcy-Holmes and Prospect Park-East River Road. Compared to 2021, some serious crimes have spiked, while others have dropped steeply.
For example, in Marcy-Holmes -- which covers Dinkytown -- shots fired calls have decreased 29.7 percent year-to-year and burglaries are down nearly 37 percent. Yet, at the same time, carjackings have more than doubled, with 18 reported in 2022 versus seven at this time last year.
"There are still a lot of problems. When you look at crime statistics, although they've gotten a little better, it's a teeny bit," Brumm said, noting that she remains concerned about jurisdictional issues that dictate which agencies respond to which neighborhoods near campus. "We have to stop with the finger-pointing and work together to figure out the solution. Every day we don't is putting kids at risk. A lot of students and a lot of crimes are not being reported because it's too confusing and too complicated of a process."
However, several agencies are aiding UMPD this semester with an increased presence near campus, especially during prime weekend hours. This includes MPD, Transit Police, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, and the Minnesota State Patrol.
UMPD Chief Clark noted the strategy at a recent Board of Regents meeting.
"We are doing joint patrols. We've done them in the past, but not to this extent," Clark said. "And just want to thank our partners who have stepped forward to help us out."
The university is also ramping up hiring within UMPD and has launched a "Dinkytown Alerts" pilot program, which expands the campus crime notification system to adjacent neighborhoods.
Mark Possis, a University of Minnesota senior, said he's felt safer near campus this year.
"Obviously, we're still walking in pairs everywhere, making sure you're not alone, and taking all the precautions because we know what it's been like," Possis said. "But overall, I think it's been a little bit better."
Friday night's Safety Walk begins at the Qdoba in Dinkytown, lasting from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to wear reflective gear and bring flashlights.
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