MSA invites police to discuss safety

Jerret Raffety

Minnesota Student Association representatives, police officials and more than a dozen students discussed safety issues on- and off-campus Tuesday in Coffman Union.

Anthony Dew, chairman of the MSA Facilities and Housing Committee, said that MSA called the meeting after recent crimes in the area.

In one crime, a man died in an off-campus shooting near University Village Oct. 16. In another, a man allegedly attempted to kidnap an 18-year-old woman Nov. 3.

Despite the crimes, officials defended the safety on campus.

Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department, said the shooting near campus was an isolated incident and future shootings are possible but unlikely.

Johnson encouraged students to report all suspicious activity.

“We need the cooperation of the community,” he said.

Several students said they were also concerned about alcohol enforcement and property theft.

Authorities said they cannot ignore out-of-control parties or underage drinking. It is important to enforce the law to maintain the University’s reputation and keep students safe, Johnson said.

MSA Vice President Amy Jo Pierce said the purpose of the meeting was to have an open discussion between police and students and to educate residents on the function of local police.

“(MSA’s) job is to represent students, and addressing safety issues here on campus is definitely part of that,” Pierce said.

Nicole Nelson, a Minneapolis Police Department crime prevention specialist, also attended the event. She said crime prevention is important for both departments.

But the meeting didn’t focus solely on the crimes. Two students told Johnson about incidents in which they were unnecessarily questioned by police officers.

Another student said she and her friends were cat-called by Minneapolis police officers on their way to a football game.

“That behavior is not expected from anyone, let alone police officers,” Nelson said.

In the event of harassment from officers, students should file a written complaint to the correct precinct, Nelson said.

Johnson also informed students about a restorative justice program, in which students do community service as punishment for committing crimes. Punishment severity depends on the crime, he said.

Program participants can also keep their crime off their criminal record, he said.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Johnson said.