Editorial: Campus policing statistics promising, yet issues arise

Daily Editorial Board

Every fall, the campus at the University of Minnesota swells to the size of a small city as students pour into the campus from all over the world. This evidently leads to a higher volume of crime as the number of victims for perpetrators increases. Students should always feel safe in learning spaces, and statistics show that compared to other similar Big Ten campuses, the University is a relatively safe campus.

Compared to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has a lower rate of rape, burglary and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses, according to 2015 U.S. Department of Education (DOE) statistics. The University boasts the lowest rate of VAWA and rape offenses and the second lowest rate of burglary offenses. This is especially significant when considering the other three universities are similar in enrollment and are Big Ten schools in the Midwest. The University of Minnesota also has the largest enrollment of the three, meaning that the UMPD is managing these specific crimes well, regardless of a larger population.

However, there is an alarming statistic in the data. The robbery rate on campus is more than twice as large as the campus with the next-highest rate, which is the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although the statistics from the DOE are two years old, UMPD reports that the robbery numbers for the year through August are much higher than any other reported crime, at 261 cases reported in 2017. This may speak to the low rate of other reported crimes, however, robberies are currently up 4.6 percent from 2016.

When students arrive on campus in the fall, crime rates increase. UMPD Lt. Chuck Miner said the police force prioritizes overtime hours for officers, doubling down with more officers patrolling during high crime hours. This may help, however, an even bigger emphasis on extra patrols may help decrease robbery rates that plague the University. The current overall crime rate remains relatively stagnant from 2016 to 2017. The UMPD, hopefully, can solve these problems with the ensuing school year.

The UMPD, again, is keeping campus relatively safe, accomplishing this while using conventional means. In 2015, former President Barack Obama passed Executive Order 13688, prohibiting local police forces from using military equipment. Complying with this EO, the UMPD rid the department of all military grade equipment, which was mostly rifles. President Donald Trump, in August, passed a new executive order rescinding EO 13688. It’s important to know that despite the rescission, the UMPD has not gained any new military grade equipment and does not plan to. 

With the rate of crime relatively low and the UMPD managing most crime on campus effectively, military equipment should not be needed. We implore the UMPD to keep sticking by the standard currently in place and applaud their policing without the use of such equipment. Hopefully, with further review of staff hours, shift rotations, patrol routes and the coming of the new school year, the UMPD can limit robberies and other crimes, making campus safer and giving students more peace of mind.