U of M to discuss safety plan amid tensions between student leaders and campus police

Updated: April 28, 2021 06:23 AM
Created: April 28, 2021 06:01 AM

Wednesday, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents will have a special meeting to discuss the M Safe plan.

The plan is designed to build trust between the police force and the community. The board is discussing it amid growing tensions between a group of students and campus police. 

Tension grows between student leaders, campus police at U of M

The Minnesota Student Association wants six immediate changes, including the resignation of the police chief on campus.

The association claims Chief Matthew Clark has failed to increase safety for students of color. They are also criticizing his decision to send university officers to respond to Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center protests.

Meanwhile, a video of Minnesota Student Association Board Members discussing the UMPD is causing concern from law enforcement leaders. The video shows a conversation during which student representatives discuss relations with UMPD.

In it, one representative asks, "When you say disrupt UMPD, what do you mean by that?" 

Another responds, "Make their lives hell. Annoy the shit out of them," and also, "Use up their resources. Make their officers show up to something."

"From working in law enforcement for 32 years, it's mindboggling to me. I would encourage those students, if you want to find out what your University of Minnesota police officers are doing, stop and talk to them, maybe request to go on a ride-along, get educated on what they do on their calls for service," Jim Mortensen, with Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc., said.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to the student association to see if they stand by the statements in the video but have yet to hear back.

In a statement, a university spokesperson says the university "respects the autonomy of the Minnesota Student Association as an independent governance organization for undergraduate students, including the autonomy of its membership to speak freely. However, in this instance, the university unequivocally disagrees with the ideas expressed about disrupting UMPD's daily work. These ideas are illegal and would directly conflict with ongoing efforts to keep our campus community safe."

Part of the Board of Regents' discussion on the M Safe plan Wednesday will be recommendations, including the use of police body cameras and regular meetings with the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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