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

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University of Minnesota Police Chief Matt Clark told campus leaders Thursday that he’s concerned about responding to crime.

The Board of Regents’ meeting addressed the handling of a recent off-campus incident last weekend in which a 15-year-old was shot.

RELATED: 15-year-old shot, police respond as ‘scene turned chaotic’ at problem property near U of M

Clark mentioned that at times officers were stretched thin responding to other on-campus calls due to lower staffing levels.

“It’s tough to see them go,” Clark said. “But it’s a tough environment to be in.”

The U of M’s police force is currently at 48 officers for the campus department, but the department’s budget has room to hire at least 13 additional officers.

Lower pay and the current campus environment were key areas the chief mentioned as to why some officers left the department.

“I would say that most disappointing is how some of the officers have been treated in the last two years — there’s less than acrimonious activity from parts of the university, and it’s disheartening,” Clark said.

Three out of four recent hires have already left the department, the chief mentioned.

Clark discussed crime trends with regents, saying he anticipates seeing up to 450-500 violent or life-saving emergency calls made from off-campus this year, a 45% increase from 2019 data.

“We’ve all been hearing from families, from students and parents about concerns with safety,” Regent Darrin Rosha said.

Rosha discussed wanting to look closer into concerns Clark raised about officers leaving the force.

The Board of Regents plans to address public safety in its July meetings, according to a campus spokesperson.