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Published July 21, 2024

UMN DPS prepares to give spring public safety update

The Department of Public Safety will give its update at the March 8 Board of Regents meeting.
Image by Alex Steil
A UMPD police officer on Northrop Mall on Feb. 1, 2024. DPS will likely cover crime statistics and trends on campus in its presentation.

The University of Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) will give its spring public safety update at the next Board of Regents meeting on March 8.

At the meeting, DPS will provide updates on crime statistics on and around campus.

UMPD spokesperson Jake Ricker said Dinkytown has been a focus for DPS in recent years. While the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has jurisdiction over the area, the partnership between MPD and the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) will be reflected in the presentation. UMPD is a unit within DPS.

Ricker added that the statistics DPS will present are valuable in providing context about what factors contribute to crime trends year-to-year and the University’s approach to public safety is described as “multilayered,” meaning there is no single factor driving crime trends.

According to Ricker, UMPD had 58 officers in 2018. By 2022, UMPD had fewer than 50. Due to active recruiting, the number has grown to 54. The Board of Regents budgets for 71 UMPD officers. 

Ricker said although staffing will likely not be part of the presentation, DPS is likely to discuss it since they are going to see criminal and response statistics. 

Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Campus Safety Task Force Chair Keegan Wulf said that although most calls UMPD responds to are unrelated to crime, it is an ongoing issue since rates increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While crimes like robbery are decreasing, carjacking and car theft are on the rise, according to Wulf. 

“People still have a lot of concerns, especially walking around at night,” Wulf said. “But it does seem to be something that people are generally starting to feel better about.”

The University is experiencing three consecutive months of more crimes reported compared to the same months in the previous year, according to Campus Safety Coalition Board Member Brian Peck.

Reported crimes were lower over the summer and the previous year but have since picked up, according to Peck. While it is not uncommon for crime to spike during the Spring, the numbers show an alarming trend.

Peck said increased police presence on campus would deter crime.

University leaders made statements saying they anticipate increasing staff in a variety of public safety roles, Ricker said. This increase includes additional staffing for positions as unarmed community officers, University Security staff for programs like 624-WALK and after-hours University building patrol, UMPD social workers and sworn UMPD officers.

“A sufficient mix and number of public safety staff for the size of our campus is necessary to be well-positioned to manage whatever safety risks arise for our community,” Ricker said in a follow-up email to The Minnesota Daily.

From the beginning of 2023, UMPD has expanded its team with five community service officers and established a systemwide role emphasizing equitable practices. UMPD is working to hire a social worker and a mental health officer, according to Ricker. University Security increased its personnel, totaling 26 full-time uniformed staff members enhancing public safety initiatives.

Ricker said that although the staffing challenges facing police departments in the Twin Cities are pronounced, UMPD added incentives for new hires and retention bonuses for UMPD officers.

“There have been some really great hires in those areas in recent months,” Ricker said. “But the effort continues.”

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