Extra law enforcement in Dinkytown for commencement weekend after recent crime
There’s a ramped-up police presence in Dinkytown this weekend.
Squads with their strobe lights on could be seen in the area of 4th Street and 13th Avenue Saturday night.
“Obviously it’s very important to have a very strong law enforcement presence to de-escalate situations and prevent things from happening,” says Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara.
The heightened security comes after a string of violent crimes last weekend, including assaults and property damage.
Police received multiple reports of a group of fifty people disturbing the peace.
Authorities say at one point, a woman was attacked by a group of four people.
“I feel like safe overall,” explains Antonette Kamara, who graduated from the University on Saturday. “But I would say when I go to Dinkytown, I feel less safe because of the amount of people that are always here for different reasons.”
Police say they arrested or cited at least 10 people, most of them juveniles.
The charges for one underage suspect alone, included attempted auto theft, riot and disorderly conduct.
The current law enforcement uptick, coming on commencement weekend.
“Very excited,” smiles Meea Mosissa, who had just received his diploma. “It took a lot of hard work to get here, so happy to celebrate.”
He says he hopes the police presence will keep things peaceful.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Mosissa notes. “Obviously, a lot more security when there’s large bodies like this. Anything can happen during large events like this.”
O’Hara believes most of the troublemakers are coming in from outside the campus community — the suburbs.
“You know, you’ve got teenagers looking to come in and party and do things that kids that they may know are a couple of years older are able to do,” he explains. “But they’re not able to do because they’re too young.”
So far this weekend, O’Hara credits youth outreach workers and violence interrupters with helping to keep the peace.
“I know they were very successful in getting some juveniles to just leave the area before anything happened,” he says.
“The patrols do help,” adds Melissa Runkel, a member of a University of Minnesota parents’ group. “We appreciate all the support we get in our community.”
But Runkel says there needs to be better long-term anti-crime planning — and more engagement between the university, police, parents, and the business community.
“We would like to see kind of more coordination with businesses, instead of relying on police to have more technology, so businesses can stay open,” she says. “But also have protection and a plan to deal with events that can happen that are violent events, that people cannot predict.”
Some students say they’re hoping for a more permanent police presence.
The University says UMPD will have units both on and off campus this weekend.
MPD says it will return to continue the safety protocols on Sunday.
“It would be nice to have that peace of mind,” says Alexys Larson, who graduated Saturday. “Like, oh, if I want to walk, and go on a night walk with my friends, I don’t have to worry about being unsafe or getting in trouble.”