Prospect Park meeting to discuss crime prevention

One avenue of crime prevention being addressed is adjusting environmental design.

Kevin McCahill

Prospect Park neighborhood officials and residents met one month ago and decided there were definite crime problems in the area.

Now officials are meeting again to find a way to fix it.

The Prospect Park and East River Road Improvement Association livability committee will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Prospect Park United Methodist Church to discuss crime prevention.

Neighborhood leaders, 2nd Precinct police officials, landlords and members of University student organizations will meet and discuss ideas.

Prospect Park association President Joe Ring said participants of the discussion will be expected to list ways they can keep the area safe and will be expected to stick with them.

“If someone makes a commitment, I will expect them to do it,” he said. “It’s too easy to shake your head yes and walk out the door and then drop it.”

Crime prevention through environmental design is one avenue participants plan to discuss. This idea would change how parking lots and exterior buildings are protected.

It would make parking facilities more enclosed with designated entrance and exit points, making it difficult for thieves to hide.

Ring said he hopes these kinds of ideas will be implemented in future developments.

“The idea is to make the developer or landowner understand security doesn’t stop at their door,” he said. “They have to understand they are a stakeholder in what happens outside as well.”

Second Precinct Cmdr. Valerie Wurster said she will attend the meeting and that police have been doing what they can to protect students.

She said there has been a 75 percent decrease in robberies in the past three months in the area because of the addition of extra officers.

But she said the upcoming warmer months could add more problems as people tend to leave doors and windows open.

“I think we can all do more,” Wurster said. “And students also bear some of the responsibility.”

Along with police and property owners, Ring said he hopes student-leaders can help get other students involved.

Minnesota Student Association President Emily Serafy Cox said she plans to attend.

“Most of the crime in Prospect Park is perpetrated against students,” Cox said. “That is a major concern to us as a student body.”

Cox said putting the meeting together will be useful.

“This is an important issue,” she said. “People owning these properties haven’t been doing all that they can to protect them.”

Kendre Turonie, coordinator of student and community relations for the University, said officials from Jefferson Commons, University Village, Melrose, Dinnaken Properties and the new University Flats condominiums have been invited to the event.

Ring said he wants to see student apartments add private security personnel and cameras to their lots. This, he said, might prevent students from moving to other types of housing – such as duplexes or single-family homes.

“If students can change housing options to eliminate (problems), that is what they are going to do,” he said.

Ring said he hopes these crime meetings will have some positive effects.

“Before it was just information going out in which it was determined that we have a problem,” Ring said. “The city can’t do it alone; student groups can’t do it alone. Everybody has to give.”