Fax network keeps U updated on crime information

Jim Martyka

University Police are striving to keep students and staff members better informed about campus crime by joining a program that distributes crime information via fax. And so far, police say it is working.
Members of the police department have recently finished a year-long process of connecting the campus to the Minnesota Crime Alert Network. The system, set up by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, is a fax network that allows police departments across the state to contact members and inform them of important crime information.
“We currently have 2,500 businesses, law enforcement agencies, schools and hospitals hooked up to the system,” said Sheila Miller, the project’s coordinator. “Plus, there are many other organizations waiting to get in.”
Miller said law enforcement agencies such as University Police use the system to alert people to crimes and incidents around campus and to warn them about suspects in the crimes. Police do this by sending a fax to various University departments, which then post the information for students and staff members.
Police departments can choose where they want to send the fax by sorting through an electronic list of participants.
University Police Detective Larry Anderson said the system is the best possible tool police have to keep the community aware of incidents on campus. He is finishing a tour of the University in which he hosts meetings to encourage departments to sign on to the program.
Anderson said the network has had a lot of success around campus. “We’ve been able to warn people about sexual assaults, laptop thefts and other crime patterns,” he said. “This has helped us keep the campus safer and more informed.”
The system is also used to keep University Police in touch with member organizations around the state.
One incident in which the program was helpful was the case of Christopher Kreisel, a University student who was reported missing in February. University Police were looking for a place to start searching for the student. Anderson said they used the network to send a fax to various banks in Minnesota to see if Kreisel had withdrawn money from any of the banks. One bank responded that employees had traced him withdrawing money from an ATM in Texas. Authorities were then able to find Kreisel.
Police also used the system to warn people about murder suspect Louis Buggs after he allegedly shot University student Kami Talley in February. Police immediately issued a fax to departments to warn students and staff members to watch out for Buggs, who was at large.
Ellen Dahl, the administrative director in the Department of Genetics and Cell Biology, signed on her department to the network. “Any time we get a fax (from the alert network), we post it so people know what to watch for,” she said. “Being in the network makes people feel a lot safer.”
Anderson said police have been successful in getting most University departments to join, but some have not responded. He is asking departments interested in joining to call him at 624-0525.