MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota is boosting security on the Twin Cities campus.
Students arriving on campus this week may notice additional police officers, tighter restrictions on access to buildings and more discussions about safety. With the Green Line light rail now stopping at the university and increased traffic from the Minnesota Vikings games at TCF Bank Stadium, university officials expect more outsiders to be on campus.
Last fall, a spike in crime caused concern in and around the campus, which includes about 7,000 students and thousands more in surrounding neighborhoods. The number of robberies increased by 50 percent to 26 crimes.
The university has since taken steps to prevent another surge in crime this fall.
"We think we have a better-informed, wiser community as compared to a year ago," said Pam Wheelock, vice president for university services.
The university is communicating with students and parents about how to avoid becoming a victim through programs such as SAFE U.
"Safety is being pounded, pounded, pounded (in) Welcome Week," said Minnesota Student Association President Joelle Stangler. The university "is being more proactive as opposed to being reactive."
The university has a $4 million plan to improve security, according to Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/1qvoqPH ).
Officials have set up a key card security system and are restricting public access in more than 140 buildings on the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. University leaders are focusing on securing tunnels and skyways.
The campus police department has added three full-time officers, raising the number to 50. Additional public safety personnel will also be present on Vikings game days, Wheelock said.
Lighting between residence halls and in high traffic areas has been improved and 16 new cameras are focused on busy streets. The campus already has 1,600 cameras on campus, officials said.
University classes begin Sept. 2.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org