U adjusts crime alert policy

The school will only use suspect descriptions in its crime alerts when there are specific identifiers for the suspect.

Haley Hansen

University of Minnesota administrators announced Wednesday morning the school will only use suspect descriptions in its crime alerts when there is information available that would clearly identify the suspect.

The new policy is part of an effort to ensure that everyone on campus feels safe, according to an email from Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock.

“This new approach advances public safety while recognizing the harm caused by using race in otherwise limited suspect descriptions,” President Eric Kaler said in the email, which was sent to University faculty members, students and staff.

The school recently reviewed suspect descriptions in crime alerts dating back to 2012, Wheelock said in the email, and about 30 percent of the alerts had insufficient identifiers about suspects.

The email said community members were concerned that the use of race in crime alerts can create a hostile campus climate.

Wheelock and the schools’ Chief of Police Greg Hestness will determine whether to include suspect descriptions on a case-by-case basis.