Some ignore safety alerts

Andy Steinke

Campus e-mail inboxes were stuffed with yet another public safety alert Saturday morning.

The alert – issued because a parking lot attendant on the West Bank was robbed at knifepoint Friday afternoon – was the third issued by University police in November and the seventh since the beginning of the school year.

Safety alerts are sent to students and staff because of the Clery Act, which states the University has to disclose information about crime around campus, Police Chief Greg Hestness said.

on the web

To view recent safety alerts, and updates to old alerts, visit the University Police Department’s Web site at http://www1.umn.edu/police/ alerts.html.

But with alerts being sent out frequently this year, are people on campus still reading the alerts, or are the e-mails being deleted and purged from inboxes before they are read?

Hestness said crimes against people typically merit an alert, and he doesn’t think too many have been sent.

“None of the ones in the past couple of months have been inappropriate,” he said. “But we don’t want to send so many out that people start ignoring them.”

Political science senior Kelly Morrison said she hardly ever reads the alerts and thinks that is probably the case with a lot of students.

“I live in St. Paul so I’m not usually as close to where the crimes are occurring,” she said.

She said the alerts haven’t deterred her from doing what she was going to do before the alerts were sent.

Biochemistry junior Brian Reilly said he thinks too many safety-alert e-mails are being sent to students.

“It seems like every time there is a mugging or a robbery, there is an e-mail sent out,” he said. “I think students are becoming desensitized to them.”

Reilly said he has come to ignore the e-mails when he gets them.

“There’s nothing you can do anyway,” he said.

Hestness said there are more than a few people, however, who are reading the e-mails.

“We’ve had a lot of e-mails from parents and students saying, ‘Things are really bad on campus, when are you going to do something about it?’ ” he said.

According to Minneapolis police statistics, Part I crimes in the 1st and 2nd precincts, which include the East and West banks of the Minneapolis campus, are down from last year.

Those crimes – which include homicide, rape, robbery, assault, theft and burglary – have seen a 2.5 percent decrease since 2006.

Part I crimes on or near campus almost always call for a safety alert, Hestness said.

“With any serious offense, getting information out to the community is important,” he said. “Those crimes are going to be the ones where you are going to have concern about public safety.”

The University isn’t the only school issuing safety alerts either, Hestness said.

Any university that receives federal funding, and is thus subject to the Clery Act, must provide safety information to its campus community.

The information doesn’t guarantee safety to students, however, even if those students regularly read the safety alerts.

First-year criminal justice student Zachary Weis said he reads the safety alerts when he receives them, but that didn’t stop two men from attempting to rob him Oct. 15 behind the Washington Avenue parking ramp.

“There is always going to be crime, and you have to be ready,” Weis said. “You have to be aware of where you are and who’s around, because someone might want to take advantage of you.”