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Mankato Police Step Up Patrol In Troubled Downtown

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The college year came to a violent end near one Minnesota campus.

Two young people suffered critical injuries within one week in downtown Mankato in May. One left a former Minnesota State University, Mankato linebacker in a coma, while another happened when a student tried to jump on the back of a campus bus.

Police believe alcohol played a role in both.

This summer, Mankato Police don’t want any more partying to get out of control. WCCO-TV walked the beat with police to see what they’re up against on overnight patrol.

Three weeks since spring semester ended and a mile and a half from campus, downtown is still filled with hundreds of people looking to let loose on a Friday night.

“It’s 12:30 right now,” said Sgt. Ken Baker. “That’s typically the time we see an influx in the downtown area.”

A guy with an open container of alcohol, a young woman passed out in the middle of a parking ramp; these are scenes Cmdr. Matt DuRose considers inevitable.

“It’s normal. It’s normal,” DuRose said. “We’ve got 11 or 12 liquor establishments really within a couple of blocks.”

A few blocks serve as a regional hub for food and entertainment options. But after surveillance cameras captured a student falling from the back of a bus and Isaac Kolstad’s brutal assault, police are sending the message that these streets are safe.

“It’s tragic that it occurred, that it brought the attention that it did,” DuRose said. “But it really is the exception not the rule of the behaviors.”

An officer was within earshot in both cases.

“Random things like that can happen all the time,” one college student said. “You never know.”

At least two cops are on foot patrol downtown until bar close, checking with bouncers and bar staff to gauge the crowds.

By 2 a.m., police had sent one person to detox and arrested one young man for not telling officers how old he is and for talking back.

Police consider it a typical weekend night in the summer, doing everything in their power to get people home OK.

“Safety is the number one priority, and for the most part it is a safe area down here,” DuRose said.

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