Police are still searching for a man who may have pulled a gun on a student in an attempted laptop heist on Monday, and the University of Minnesota is ramping up security in the wake of the incident.
Security forces on campus say they aren't taking any chances -- especially on the West Bank and in Anderson Hall. A day later, a strange feeling lingers as the suspect seen in security camera footage lacks a name.
When campus crime alerts come in, they usually detail assaults or robberies that occur past midnight. Monday's incident came in the middle of the afternoon in a place that was literally feet away from occupied classrooms.
Now, university officials are hoping to secure more funding to pay for overtime for security officers and increase foot and bike patrols. They also hope to add more security cameras to the network of 1,700 currently on campus.
Meanwhile, security reviews of campus buildings have begun. The university said it hopes to minimize inconvenience for the student body, but
As police work to track down the suspect, they are also pushing to expand a popular campus ride program called the Gopher Chauffeur to Thursdays instead of operating it as a weekend-only service. Adding Thursdays have been a priority for a while, but there was no funding.
In light of a string of crime near campus in the past two months, the effort was renewed. E-mails began flying as news of Monday's incident caught national attention, and getting money for the extra staff now appears likely.
U OF M PRESIDENT ERIC KALER ISSUES STATEMENT
To the Twin Cities campus community,
There is nothing more important to me than knowing that every day we are all working and learning on a safe and secure campus. The rash of recent robberies and other crimes near and on our Minneapolis campus is troubling and disturbing, and it angers and frustrates me.
Yesterday's attempted armed robbery of a student on the West Bank was especially troubling. We were able to get the word out quickly via TXT-U, social media, and our homepage, but we can and must do more to deter crime and enhance your safety.
While this is overall a safe campus in a safe city, our campus is open and public, and many criminals perceive our students, faculty, staff, and property as easy targets.
Last week, Vice President for University Services Pam Wheelock and University Police Chief Greg Hestness met with Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau to discuss our concerns and how to enhance our joint efforts to ensure safety near and on campus. I also have requested a meeting with Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges to discuss campus safety and other University issues.
Today I asked VP Wheelock and Chief Hestness to continue to step up their work and to take the following enhanced measures to ensure safety:
• Allocate additional resources to provide for overtime pay and additional officers to increase foot and bicycle patrols on and near campus.
• Continue to work with the City of Minneapolis to expand coordinated patrol efforts around campus.
• Work with Student Affairs to enhance the Gopher Chauffeur escort program.
In addition to these short term strategies, the University is working on long term approaches. We will continue to add to our 1,700 security cameras on campus, particularly along high traffic, public areas. We also are developing a plan for enhanced building security to define what spaces are fully public, University community only, or restricted access, and how to better monitor and control openness of buildings. Unfortunately, this may inconvenience some, but it will add to our security.
Please remember that safety is a shared responsibility. We are a community, and it is important to look out for one another. There are some things you can do, too, to be alert to the possibility of a crime. Among them:
• If you see anything suspicious, call 911 immediately.
• Always be aware of your surroundings. When you are distracted you make an easier target.
• Walking with someone is the easiest way to ensure your safety late at night and on the weekends. If you can't find someone to walk with, call the Campus Escort Service at 612-624-WALK for a free security escort, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. On the weekends, call the Gopher Chauffeur at 612-388-6911 for free transportation to and from area destinations.
• When threatened with a weapon, it's best not to resist. Your personal safety is more important than a lost wallet or cell phone.
If you haven't done so already, sign up for TXT-U. This is a primary means of communication during emergencies. You can add two additional numbers to your account, so please consider adding loved ones who want to stay informed - parents, spouse, or other family members.
Promoting the safety of our campus community is one of my most important responsibilities and one I take very seriously.
Eric W. Kaler