Dinkytown businesses boost security

McDonald’s, Target, Mesa Pizza, Blarney and Five Guys are among the businesses that have paid for security.

by Barry Lytton

Close to 10,000 people trek down the 15th Avenue Southeast stretch of Dinkytown on an average autumn weekday.

With that level of foot traffic, area businesses constantly seek ways to make their residents and visitors feel safe, said Mike Mulrooney, president of the Dinkytown Business Alliance and owner of Blarney Pub and Grill.

“It’s not that we feel there is anything wrong,” Mulrooney said. “It’s just that we want to provide the most safe environment that we can.”

The DBA has recently mulled over plans for business owners to pool resources and cover the costs of hiring off-duty police to supplement officers already patrolling the area, he said.

But owners eventually scrapped the idea — citing discrepancies on how to split officer time across a swath of storefronts, bars and eateries — so only a select few have individually chosen pay for their own security personnel, he said.

Most of Dinkytown’s bars have bouncers, Mulrooney said, and many other area businesses hire security forces. On weekend nights, McDonald’s, TargetExpress and Mesa Pizza employ uniformed security personnel, while Blarney and Five Guys sometimes hire off-duty officers.

Mulrooney said Blarney does this during large events, like big Gophers games or St. Patrick’s Day, as well as during active weekends like Halloween or homecoming.

Hiring an off-duty officer costs about $200 per night, and since “they always come in pairs,” Mulrooney said, he ends up paying about $400 for the officers to work from 10 p.m. to about 2 a.m. or bar close.

TargetExpress in Dinkytown employs in-house, uniformed security guards called “Target protection specialists,” said manager Karl Anderson.

“They specialize in safeness and security,” he said, “then theft and fraud.”

Because the retail chain’s Dinkytown location has an experimental, smaller store format, TargetExpress was slow to hire a security specialist, Anderson said. As of about a month ago, he said, there is at least one protection specialist manning its floors on most weekend nights.

Along with businesses, some Dinkytown-area apartment complexes also pay out-of-pocket to hire security staff.

Almost every night of the week, a security officer guards the front desk at the Knoll, a Doran Companies-owned apartment building on University Avenue Southeast, said John Wodele, Doran’s vice president of marketing.

He said all six of Doran’s student housing complexes hire security, as do the rest of the company’s properties. He said it’s a fairly common practice for large apartment buildings, unless they have 24/7 staffing.

In Stadium Village, there hasn’t been a need for any extra security personnel, said Chris Ferguson, a member of area’s commercial association.

“More of our restaurants and bars are family oriented, more alumni oriented,” he said. “The Dinkytown side is a little bit more the rowdy side of campus.”