Coalition of parents, Dinkytown businesses push for answers from U of M leaders on public safety

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Earlier this month, the University of Minnesota Police Department reported there has been a 45% increase in violent crime surrounding the Twin Cities campus since 2019.

A coalition of parents and some business owners in the Dinkytown neighborhood are now pushing for an in-person meeting with university leaders to bring forth their concerns about public safety.

RELATED: U of M police chief raises concerns about dwindling force, responding to crime

Marcia Cotter is a U of M graduate who now lives in South Carolina and has a son who attends the university. She told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS parents are anxious to have a sit-down meeting with university administrators.

“I think parents would like to have a meeting with university leaders to be a part of the solution,” Cotter said. “I think parents are asking for that, and on social media, we’re getting a voice and presence now and there is a very strong advocacy for that, indeed.”

Brian Peck also is a U of M alumnus with two sons at the university right now. He said he was appreciative of a recent letter sent by U of M Board of Regents Chair Ken Powell.

“I like the recognition and the acknowledgment, but I still don’t see the action plan,” Peck said. “I would love to sit down and say, ‘We need a scorecard. Let’s see what actions you’re taking, let’s see what the results are by looking at the crime statistics and see if it’s moving the needle, and if it’s not then let’s go try something else.'”

RELATED: U of M parent urges administration to involve parents in safety plans

In his letter, Powell stated that the university administration and Board of Regents were doing everything within their power to keep students safe.

“The administration has authorized extensive overtime for our department for additional patrols both on campus and off campus. They plan to continue that overtime through the summer months,” Powell wrote. “More to come on this but the University is doing everything possible, in the short-term, to increase the presence of uniformed officers in the areas that need them around and on campus.”

Board of Regents member James Farnsworth told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he hears about public safety issues from constituents nearly every day and supports the parents’ efforts to have a meeting either with U of M President Joan Gabel, the Board of Regents, or both.

“I think it’s the least we could do is to have sort of a listening session with an in-person opportunity with the parents just to hear their concerns and then work collaboratively toward solutions,” Farnsworth said.

Mike Mulrooney owns Blarney’s Pub and Grill in Dinkytown and told KSTP he would also like to see the university leaders sit down with parents as well as small businesses affected by the crime near campus.

“I would like to see the community get together, like with the parents’ group, and start working toward solutions,” Mulrooney said. “I think what we’ve done is talk enough about the problem and it just perpetuated the problem and now we have to start perpetuating the solution.”

Minneapolis City Council Member Robin Wonsley will host a public safety meeting Tuesday evening to discuss safety, both on and off campus. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Van Cleve Recreation Center.