Agencies coordinate patrols

Britt Johnsen

Following a riot last weekend at Minnesota State University-Mankato, and anticipating a high-profile football game against the University of Michigan, University police met Wednesday to coordinate six organizations to patrol the University and downtown Minneapolis areas.

Officials from the University police, Minneapolis police, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, St. Paul police, the Minneapolis Fire Department, the Metropolitan Council police and Hennepin County paramedics were involved in the meeting and will contribute forces this weekend.

Greg Hestness, assistant vice president for public safety, said University police will have 25 to 30 of their 43 officers on duty.

Minneapolis police said in addition to the 20 officers they have on regular duty to patrol the campus area, they will have approximately 40 extra officers in specific areas. A helicopter from the state patrol will be ready to respond if necessary.

“If the Gophers win, bars will be full and parties will go on,” Minneapolis police Lt. Jeff Rugel said. “As long as people don’t clog the streets, cause damage, start fires or act violently, (there will be nothing to worry about).”

Rugel said the extra officers are attending to their usual jobs but are ready to respond to any situation. He also said St. Paul police will be on regular duty but prepared to respond to rioting.

Exact numbers from the other agencies were unavailable Wednesday.

Hestness said officials will target large groups and parties and will look specifically for drinking in public.

“(Students can) get into sort of a mob mentality … between the alcohol and crowd mentality and anonymity,” Hestness said.

He said the extra police hours were already in the budget and will not cost the University unnecessary amounts of money.

“(We’re being) extremely cautious,” Hestness said. “But it’s necessary.”

A riot last April after the men’s hockey NCAA victory cost the University $350,000, and Minnesota Student Association President Eric Dyer said students caught rioting now face extreme consequences.

After April’s riots, the University revised its conduct code to specifically address rioting. Now, students convicted of rioting at a University event – on or off campus – can be expelled, and there are also consequences for attending riots.

“People should definitely avoid (riots),” Dyer said.

He said he will send an e-mail to the entire student body reminding people of the consequences.

However, Dyer said he doubts students will riot, and he added that community members and high school students are the people to worry about.

A University graduate said riots are more likely because of all the preparation.

“I don’t think (riots) will happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” alumna Julie Cole said. “The possibility is greater with all the hype about it.”

Other students said rioting will not occur this weekend.

“I don’t think there will be any (student) rioting,” senior Mike Ricketts said.

Another student said she is not taking any chances and will stay away from campus altogether.

“I didn’t think they were going to happen last year but it happened, so I don’t know about this year,” junior Kati Pederson said. “But I’ll definitely be changing my routes and steering clear of (campus).”