Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — University of Minnesota officials are hoping that the Gopher hockey team has success in the Frozen Four, and calm on campus.
Just last night, Kentucky won the NCAA basketball championship, and violence broke out on the streets. Dozens were arrested and one man was injured by gunfire.
Now the university is laying out plans in the event the Gophers win the NCAA hockey title, hoping to avoid the violence of the past.
“We have a plan in place, and we will have a significant presence,” said Lt. Bruce Jensen of the Minneapolis Police Department. “Make no mistake, we are prepared.”
The university, Minneapolis Police and other law enforcement agencies are working together to avoid what happened in 2002 and 2003, when championship celebrations turned into ugly riots.
“A lot of visibility,” said University Police Chief Greg Hestness, describing his department’s preparation. “Frankly, interacting with students in a non-confrontational basis, in hopes that they can have a good time, but there’s enough police present there so it doesn’t reach a critical mass of insanity like it did last time.”
They’ll have better communication between agencies this time, and students have already been warned that rioting is covered by the student conduct code, even if it happens off campus.
“We know that students don’t want to mar their record with police citations,” said Vice Provost of Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart. “But they also don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with the University. We want to make sure they’re aware that that could happen to them.”
While they’re cheering for more success on the ice, they’re also hoping for calm on campus.
“There’s a point at which behaviors are criminal at one point,” said Chief Hestness. “And they also really reflect badly on the University and frankly overshadow the accomplishments of the team.”
In other words, they want to add another championship to the university’s trophy case without adding another black mark to its reputation.
They’ll increase patrols for the semifinals on Thursday, with a much larger presence if the Gophers make it to the championship on Saturday night.