Campus features full-time police unit

Robert Koch

Freshmen might be surprised to learn the University has its own police department. But given the size of the Twin Cities campus and its student body of 45,000, it makes sense.
“The myth that people have when they come here is that we’re some sort of campus security,” said University Police Detective Marianne Scheel.
Located at 511 Washington Ave. S.E., the University Police Department employs up to 43 full-time police officers and 150 students as security monitors and campus escorts.
They patrol in squad cars, on foot and even on mountain bikes.
University Police officers are fully certified police officers. Student security monitors and campus escorts carry police radios and are able to deliver first aid after receiving 40 hours of training.
Officers, security monitors and campus escorts alike stand ready to assist on campus. Still, students should practice sound crime prevention.
“Our number-one problem on campus has been theft,” said University Police Capt. Steve Johnson.
Students should lock dorm rooms and bicycles, and never leave backpacks, laptop computers or other personal belongings unattended.
Johnson also reminds students that underage drinking, drinking in public, and drinking and driving are illegal activities that will result in police action.
“Alcohol does contribute to a lot of problems with personal-safety issues,” Johnson added.
Students also can protect themselves by using the campus shuttle bus and escort services, knowing their surroundings, and walking and parking in lighted areas. The campus escort service, which provides a person to walk students to and from campus locations, is available free of charge 24 hours a day throughout the year.
Students in need of assistance should dial 911 on campus telephones or on any of the 20 ‘Blue Lights’ emergency telephones situated across campus. All of these phones connect callers directly to department dispatchers, who are able to locate the caller immediately.
Programs and services offered by or in coordination with the department include the Security Monitor Program, the Program Against Sexual Violence, shuttle-bus service, a threat assessment team and personal safety lectures.
Beginning June 12, University Police will speak at 23 new student and parent orientations.
“We’d like (students) to view us as their police department,” said University Police Chief George Aylward.

Robert Koch covers police and courts and welcomes comments at [email protected]