Territoriality has no place in policing

I firmly believe the increased police presence has collateral benefits in decreasing other crimes and misconduct.

In my three years at the University, I have found a cycle of dialogue which occurs every year about police priorities.

The University Police Department, Minneapolis Police, the State Patrol and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office work on controlling uncivil party behaviors and underage drinking in the neighborhoods at the beginning of the academic year. That is followed by complaints from some students and Daily editorials that it is a poor use of police resources. Given increased instances of violent crimes in those same neighborhoods, I disagree.

The overtime funds provided by the state are targeted to controlling abusive alcohol behaviors. These police efforts are not instead of other priorities, they are in addition to them.

Quite frankly, I firmly believe the increased police presence has collateral benefits in decreasing other crimes and misconduct. That was my experience during the last few of my 28 years with the Minneapolis Police Department, where adequate resources and their proper use contributed to a sustained 43 percent decrease in Part 1 crimes, some of the most serious offenses. Since crime trends are affected by many factors, it is difficult to measure what was prevented by one specific initiative, or what did not occur on a given night. The focus on so-called “minor crimes” was widely credited as being key to the improvement of public safety in New York City under William Bratton and Rudolph Giuliani.

This summer, given the drastically reduced Minneapolis police resources, University police worked overtime robbery suppression details in the surrounding campus neighborhoods. We would care regardless of whom the victims were; however, they were often University students. Early summer robbery patterns declined dramatically. Cause and effect? I think so. Again, however, dedicated money was provided by the state and city.

I have to say I am a bit disappointed in the Daily editorial board. It has been my experience that before editors take a position on police issues they usually do some fact finding, talking to us, for instance.

The truth is both Minneapolis and University police are trying to do everything possible within our resources to provide for public safety. Yes, we are also seeking additional resources. Considerable thought based on professional experience does go into priority setting. If you would like to hear the rationale, you have only to ask.

Right now, we are most concerned about the apparently random and serious assaults on two University and one Bethel College student. The not-so-visible investigative efforts of both Minneapolis police and University police are directed there. Uniformed officers from both agencies are also keenly aware of these crimes and focus their patrol efforts accordingly. The last piece is the solicitation of the community’s assistance through information. In that effort we do thank the Daily and other media.

The campus remains safe from violent crime. That is of little comfort if our surrounding neighborhoods are threatened. Territoriality has no place; cooperation is everything.

Greg Hestness is the University police chief. Please send comments to [email protected]