Neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota have seen a spike in several different kinds of crime, many of which have been alcohol related, University police said. Some community members blame the increase in crime on the new football stadium.
Incidents involving assaults, disturbances, loud music, parties and other alcohol-related crimes during football game weekends have all increased since 2008, according to police.
Reported fights during weekends this football season have more than doubled since last year, and reports of loud parties have increased 35 percent, according to police reports.
“Both the numbers and the anecdotes from the neighborhoods are consistent that this [behavior] is some aspect of the culture now,” University police Chief Greg Hestness said.
This fall, University and Minneapolis police started a program called Enhanced Police Coverage , which uses 12 officers from University and Minneapolis police departments to combat crime, mostly on game weekends.
“We’re certainly seeing a lot more foot traffic and a lot more parties,” Marcy-Holmes Safety and Livability Committee member Eric Nauman said. “What is new is we have a stadium in the neighborhood.”
Hestness said police might increase patrols to curb behavior. Specifically, police may keep a closer eye on 15th Avenue Southeast.
“We have seen 15th Avenue as sort of an artery between Como and Dinkytown,” he said. “We’ve gotten reports of hundreds of people at night stopping and trying to get into one party or another.”
Police say the increase might be part of a natural cycle.
“A quarter of the [student] population turns over here every year, and culture changes a little bit,” Hestness said. “Some years they’re more responsible and sometimes they’re less responsible.”
Through the first four weekends of the semester there were 41 fights in southeast Minneapolis. Last year there were 20. Several of these fights have involved University athletes.
Many fights occurred after people were rejected from parties, Hestness said. “We’ve had at least one stabbing and one assault in situations like that this year,” he said.
Empty beer cans and public urination have also perturbed neighbors, Nauman said.
“I hate picking cans up in the mornings. It’s distasteful,” he said. “And I don’t like looking out the window and seeing somebody urinating on my lawn.”
Police have received multiple reports of urination and unlawful behavior, and the new pattern of lawlessness is hurting student relationships with residents, Hestness said.
“An older neighbor said a couple of individuals stopped her car in the middle of the street, put their hands on her hood and turned around,” Hestness said. “One guy dropped his pants and mooned her and made sure he exposed his private parts at the same time.”
An unknown solution
To combat students or houses that have repeatedly been cited for loud parties or hosting underage consumption, an officer checks police reports for party-related offenses at the end of each weekend.
Lieutenants from University and Minneapolis police departments search reports and send warning letters to certain offenders. Houses face steeper penalties if they appear more than once in police reports, Hestness said.
Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association Director Melissa Bean said police should adopt a no-tolerance policy with partying in University neighborhoods.
“There is a whole side of our neighborhood where there’s no adult supervision,” Bean said. “That’s where the problems have happened and the Dinkytown riots occurred.”
There have been 85 disturbance reports in the first four weeks this year, compared to 61 in 2008, according to police.
“We take pride in this neighborhood, and we hope they would too,” Bean said, adding that police should have sent a message to students by imposing harsher penalties earlier.
“I’d like to see zero tolerance for any partying,” Bean said. “If there’s underage drinking, noise problems or behavior problems … I think that zero tolerance is the only way to get the word out.”
Police are going to continue the Enhanced Police Coverage program and may change patrols to combat any repeated trouble spots, Hestness said.
“Through enforcement efforts, or through a little more compliance, we can start bringing relief to the neighbors,” Hestness said, “because they’re pretty upset.”
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