MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - The University of Minnesota is partnering with the city of Minneapolis to increase safety on campus and surrounding neighborhoods after five people were shot Friday night in Dinkytown.
University president Joan Gabel says three of the victims are students, and none are critically injured. Gabel says she's vowed to take action.
In a letter to students, faculty and staff, Gabel wrote of her "shared frustration and concern" about an increase in crime in Minneapolis and its effect on the campus.
"Our city is not immune to public safety challenges, as crime is up in many cities nationwide. We should, nonetheless, be able to feel safe in the neighborhoods and areas surrounding our Twin Cities campus," she said in part. "I want you to know that the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors is the highest priority for me."
Gabel said the school is working with the city of Minneapolis to implement increased safety measures in wake of the shootings. Effective immediately, more Minneapolis police and campus police will be out in Dinkytown in the later hours and more MPD mobile cameras, which are monitored, will be affixed on street corners around the neighborhood.
The UMPD officers will monitor both Dinkytown and the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, the letter said.
Brayden Rothe, a 21-year-old student at the U, welcomed a prompt response from the administration to the weekend's violence. He said he hopes school officials listen to students' suggestions and experiences when they analyze public safety protocols.
"I think it's overall good because there are some in the community that are very worried about coming back to campus and living on campus with all of the increased criminal activity," he said.
The long-term plan, Gabel said, includes working with the city to increase street lighting and extend "blue light" emergency phones into the neighborhood. Twenty such emergency kiosks dot the campus already.
The university must coordinate with the city because Dinkytown does not fall under the school's jurisdiction.
"We left like 10 minutes before all the chaos had broken out and it's definitely a scary thought to know you could've been in the crossfire," said Allie Dullum, a rising junior.
She said brightening up the area with better lighting is crucial.
"There are stretches where we walk and we're holding our pepper spray because we just don't know what's around the corner because we can't see," Dullum told WCCO while walking into town with friends Monday.
At a city council meeting this month requesting millions for overtime pay, Minneapolis police said gunshot victims had more than doubled compared to the same point last year.
Gabel said in the coming days she will detail "broader engagement" with the city, community groups, property owners and businesses "to explore, initiate and maintain a wide range of safety initiatives to create a safe community for all."
"Safety is not accomplished solely through an increased presence of law enforcement," she said.
The U recently began implementing the use of the Rave Guardian app, which provides "virtual escorts" to students when they are traveling to a destination. They can also appoint family and friends as "social guardians" to monitor their whereabouts until they arrive at a specific location. If a student doesn't arrive in the estimated time to the destination, public safety staff and "guardians" are notified.
"I think overall things will calm down eventually as they always do," Rothe said.
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