The first of four UMPD police chief finalists makes case in public forum

by Alida Tieberg

St. Paul Police Department Commander Colleen Luna was the first of four UMPD police chief finalists to present to the University community in a public forum Monday. 

Luna has 30 years of experience with the St. Paul Police Department, including 18 years of management positions within the department, her resume says.

Luna's answers focused on the relationship between campus law enforcement and the community. She said although the University community might be different from St. Paul's, law enforcement's job is the same — to protect and serve the communities they work in.

Luna said hosting forums and being visible to students is a key in University policing.

She said the greatest challenges that face campus law enforcement right now are technology, the added diversity of the campus population, and increased federal oversight. 

Technology, she said, is changing how stolen phones are being tracked and how officers do their jobs. She said that officers now have more ways to track things like stolen phones. But increased technology use also causes more theft because people have more devices on them.

Increasing diversity in our community will bring people closer together, Luna said. 

The recent increase in federal oversight could prompt a decrease in transparency, she said, which she doesn’t support.

"Police departments as a whole have generally held their data very close until they have every fact and we make a conclusion, we can't do it anymore,” she said. “We have to get some of the facts out.”

After Luna's presentation, audience members asked questions about freedom of expression and Luna's approach to protests, safety perceptions on campus, and sexual assault. 

Luna said that police authorities play a role in freedom of expression.

"It's our job to make sure that people’s freedoms of speech are protected and that they can do it in a safe environment that doesn't cause harm to them," she said. 

Minnesota Student Association President Joelle Stangler asked Luna about her approach to sexual assaults on college campuses, to which Luna responded that working with victims services and encouraging students to report sexual assault is important in addressing those crimes on campuses. 

Current UMPD Deputy Chief Charles Miner will give his presentation Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Best Buy Theater of Northrop.