UV area not statistically high in crime

Jerret Raffety

After Edward Rajual Howard Reynolds, 25, was shot in front of the Leaning Tower of Pizza earlier this month, many students and businesses said they wish more police officers would patrol the area.

However, the area of University Avenue Southeast and 25th Avenue Southeast – which is in Prospect Park – is not statistically high in crime compared with other neighborhoods adjacent to campus, according to the city of Minneapolis Web site.

“That area is very, very safe,” said Ron Reier, spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department.

“That area is blessed with not only the Minneapolis Police Department, but the University police in addition,” he said.

But not all business owners and employees in the area said they agree.

Kel Elsay, manager of Campus Foods at 2521 University Ave. S.E. said he feels safe working the mornings at the store, but not in the evenings.

Violence from robbery and intoxicated individuals are frightening for business owners in the area, Elsay said.

“(The area) seems safe, but you never know,” Elsay said.

The area has proven itself unsafe a few times, Elsay said. The store was recently burglarized after it closed for the night.

More police patrols would help the area, Elsay said.

“We need someone to keep us company in order to feel that someone is close to you when you need them,” Elsay said.

Campus Foods is open later than many businesses in the area and is consequently more vulnerable to crime, Elsay said

“There wouldn’t be anyone here watching when crimes happen,” Elsay said.

But it could be worse, said Be George, a clerk at Campus Foods.

The death of a clerk during an armed robbery at another store in north Minneapolis, under the same management as Campus Foods, is a reminder the area is not that dangerous, George said.

Minneapolis police records reflect seven calls for police assistance to the Campus Foods address since January 2003.

The area surrounding the intersection has been in steady decline for the last six months to a year, said Rick Munshi, general manager of Econo Lodge at 2500 University Ave. S.E.

“Campus should be the safest place in town, but it’s not,” Munshi said.

The Econo Lodge has been the victim of multiple armed robberies, at least two of which happened in the last four years, Munshi said. All involved a gun and different perpetrators, he said.

The owner of Econo Lodge declined to comment further on safety.

Minneapolis police records show 29 calls for police assistance to the Econo Lodge address since January 2003.

Management at Baker’s Square and the Leaning Tower of Pizza, also in the area of 25th Avenue Southeast and University Avenue Southeast, declined to comment on safety in the area.

Security initiatives

Many business owners in the area said they have been taking security into their own hands.

The west end of University Village Apartments employs a private security firm, Avalon Fortress Security Corporation, for the physical security of its building.

The primary purpose of security presence at University Village Apartments is to ensure the safety of physical property, said Daniel Seman, chief executive officer of the company. This is done through parking lot patrols, checking controlled access doors and investigating suspicious activities and noises.

The security corporation alerts police officers and staff members of safety, security, and maintenance issues, Seman said. It also keeps a written log to alert property owners of any issues on property, he said.

The group is also in charge of keeping large gatherings, loud music and other problems among residents from getting out of control, he said.

Issues such as vandalism are a serious concern for Avalon Fortress Security Corporation, Seman said.

University Village Apartments also uses surveillance cameras in hallways, entrances and garages, said Mike Pagh, president of Great Lakes Management Company, which owns the west end of University Village Apartments.

In addition, the company keeps its personnel on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Pagh said.

“We have lots of eyes and ears out,” he said.

Minneapolis police records reflect 47 calls for police assistance to the University Village Apartments address since January 2003.

Campus Foods uses a security system installed by Silent Knight Security Group.

The group offers security systems that monitor businesses during day and night, said Chuck Pelzel, general manager of Silent Knight Security Groups.

Many students said they feel safe living in University Village Apartments.

“I feel like something like (the Oct. 16 shooting) can happen anywhere,” said Jeanna Reinardy, a University Village resident and third-year student at the Carlson School of Management. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the people that live here.”