MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lawmakers, police and University of Minnesota officials met Tuesday to discuss improving student safety the school’s Twin Cities campus.
So far this year, there have been 25 robberies in and around the university. That’s an increase of about 27 percent over the past few years.
The officials met to brainstorm and discuss what’s already being done and any additional steps that should be taken.
On any given day the university has 80,000 people visiting the campus – that’s enough people to make it the state’s fifth biggest city.
Eric Kahler, the university’s president, was joined by Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and other top law enforcement and government officials to address the issue of crime in and around campus.
“It’s not OK for criminals to think this is a place they can come and find victims,” Kahler said.
One concern is that many students carry expensive smart phones and laptops, which make them obvious targets. The undergraduate student body president Michael Schmit says he and other undergrads are rallying behind legislative proposals to put “kill switches” in cell phones, which would allow them to be permanently disabled lessening their value for thieves.
“Anything that we can do to mitigate that fact — the 2,000 or so dollars we have in our pockets — I think that is something we should definitely be pursing,” Schmit said.
Minneapolis police have saturated the area with overnight patrols only to have the incidents of daytime robberies jump.
“The concern for a lot of students is, during the day, what am I supposed to do at nine in the morning?” Schmit said.
And all agree that students need to make sure they are not putting themselves in vulnerable positions.
“Most students feel invincible,” Harteau said. “I’m a parent, my daughter feels invincible. I felt that way, nothing is going to happen to me. But I think that’s the value of having students talk to other students.”
A number of leaders at Tuesday’s meeting agreed one priority will be to try and improve street lighting both on and off campus.