Crime rates drop around University

Sarah Brownson

According to Minneapolis police statistics, crime has declined in each of the first three months this year around the University community.
Crime rates around the country are dropping, said Minneapolis Police Officer Robert Patrick Sr. The same is holding true around the University community, as Computer Optimized DEployment — Focus On Results (CODEFOR) statistics indicate that crime has generally dropped in January, February and March when compared with 1999 numbers.
CODEFOR numbers measure homicides, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson. The University community is generally defined as the Cedar-Riverside, Como, Nicollet Island, Prospect Park, Marcy-Holmes and University areas.
Patrick, who works the beat in Dinkytown and Stadium Village, attributes the drop in crime to police and public efforts working together leading to “less crime and less problems.” When the community gets more involved, there is more reporting of crime, and the whole area is safer as a result, Patrick said.
He said these areas have problems with “shoplifting during the day and drinking at night, especially on the weekends.” The areas are dominated by businesses and bars, attracting shoplifters and the occasional rowdy partyers.
Patrick said neighborhoods outside of the business community such as Prospect Park and Marcy-Holmes have been having problems with auto theft and apartment break-ins where, in some instances, the thieves walk right in because people leave the doors unlocked.
A number of auto break-ins also occur in these areas, where commuters commonly park their cars and walk to campus. Patrick encourages people to lock their doors and windows, especially with the summer months coming up, and leave valuable items out of sight.
To combat crime in the area, Patrick has pushed for neighborhood cleanup of graffiti and garbage and keeping panhandlers off the street, all of these efforts make it “nicer and more hospitable,” Patrick said, adding that “crime will go down.”
However, because the University has an urban location, its crime numbers rate above the national average.
According to APBNews.com, an online news service, the University’s crime rate is relatively high.
On a scale of 10 — with one being the safest — the University scored an eight.
Although the University scored highest in the Big Ten, University Police Sgt. Erik Swanson said the Twin Cities campus is different from other Big Ten schools because we are “sitting between the two largest cities in the state.”
Other schools are further away from large cities, located in more traditional college towns. Because the University is a more urban campus, it is more likely to be associated with higher urban crime rates.
On the University campus, theft of personal and University property is most common.
These are crimes of opportunity, Swanson said. “Opportunities are created by leaving something unattended.”
He advises students to not give a thief the opportunity and to monitor their belongings.
Many potential students and their parents have a “high interest” in crime at the University, said Director of Admissions Wayne Sigler.
Crime is a “high priority and the University works very hard at preventing crime and providing a safe environment,” he added.
To ensure safety, Sigler said that the residence halls are locked 24 hours a day and parking services work at lighting the areas.
Because there are many variables that are out of the control of the University, it is impossible to ensure absolute safety, Sigler said. He encourages the students to be proactive about their own safety by taking advantage of many services that the University offers, such as the Police Department, student escort service, campus emergency telephones and motorist services.