The University of Minnesota Police Department is keeping a watchful eye on the recently opened Green Line as it gauges how the light rail could impact campus safety and what steps it can take to prevent any future accidents.
Lt. David Wilske, who heads UMPD’s patrol division, said the department has been monitoring times between stops and tracking ridership to get a better picture of who rides the Green Line as it cuts through the University.
“What we’re really focusing on is the safety on campus,” he said, adding that the trains’ speed and relatively low noise level have heightened police concerns for the safety of students and staff.
Wilske said police are patrolling the campus area — particularly Washington Avenue Southeast — to make sure pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists are following potentially unfamiliar traffic regulations that have been in place since the Green Line’s opening June 14.
Though officers understand it could take a couple months for people to get used to crossing the tracks at the right time or using the bike lane appropriately, he said, they’re actively trying to speed up that process by stopping pedestrians daily to update them on safe procedures.
For now, Wilske said, UMPD is focusing on education over enforcement.
“I’d prefer not to go to citations,” he said, “but if that’s what it takes to get the message across, that’s what we’ll do.”
Students robbed at gunpoint
Two University of Minnesota accounting doctorate students were robbed at gunpoint early Monday morning in the parking lot of Hard Times Cafe, according to a police report.
Iman Sheibany and his friend and colleague Aysa Dordzhieva were parked near the cafe at about 2 a.m. when a lone man approached them and started talking to them through the passenger side’s open window, Sheibany said.
“I drove, not walked, because I wanted to be safe,” Sheibany said, adding that the presence of customers inside the nearby cafe and the parking lot’s lighting had added to his sense of safety.
After Sheibany told the man to leave, the stranger became more belligerent, Sheibany said.
“Then he loaded and pointed the gun at my friend,” he said.
The man took the items that were on the car’s center console — which included a wallet, ID and cellphone — and left.
Sheibany said unauthorized charges at local gas stations and pharmacies have since shown up on his ATM card’s history.
“I feel absolutely not safe,” he said.
Debit card thefts reported
Two University of Minnesota students reported ATM credit card fraud last week at the same branch of TCF Bank in Stadium Village, according to a police report. Both students noticed out-of-state activity on the cards, the report said.
But neither student had visited Glen Allen, Va., where each card had been used, Wilske said.
Joseph Conway, a genetics, cell biology and development junior, said he doesn’t know who stole his ATM card information but said it could have been online theft because he still has the physical card.
The other student didn’t report their card’s theft to UMPD, Wilske said, but mentioned it to Conway, who reported it to police.
“It’s possible that this was a coincidence, but chances are it isn’t,” Wilske said.
The Glen Allen police department — not UMPD — will be handling the investigation, Wilske said, because the crimes weren’t committed within the University police’s jurisdiction.
Student arrested in Dinkytown
A University of Minnesota student was booked at Hennepin County Jail for consumption of liquor by minor and disorderly conduct early Sunday morning, according to a police report.
Minneapolis police observed the student sitting on a bench near the Dinkytown McDonald’s at about 1 a.m., the report said, when he began shouting expletives at them.
He continued yelling as the officers escorted him to a squad car, the report said. Police continually asked him to quiet down as people began to stop and stare.
The student denied that he had been drinking, but he was slurring his speech and smelled of alcohol, according to the report.
Police arrested the man after he refused to calm down or give his name, date of birth or actual age.