A campus building that currently houses the University of Minnesota Police Department will soon expand to consolidate public safety services.
The University’s Transportation and Safety Building on Washington Avenue will undergo an expansion next year to house all of the University’s public safety divisions under one roof. UMPD officers say the change will encourage interaction between students and the department.
Centralizing the police department, University Security and the Public Safety Emergency Communications Center will help make public safety services more accessible, said UMPD Lieutenant Chuck Miner.
“That’s a big part of the project — to kind of have things as a one-stop shop, mostly for students and staff to come here for all of their services, whether it be for a walking escort or to complete a police report or whatever the case might be,” Miner said. “One challenge we face now is that a lot of folks don’t really know where the police department is, or where University Security is located.”
The Transportation and Safety Building building currently sits at 511 Washington Ave SE, with UMPD occupying the first floor. University Security is currently located at Coffman Memorial Union, and the Public Safety Emergency Communications Center is located in the University Office Plaza at 2221 University Ave SE.
With the expansion, public safety departments will take over office space on the second floor and in a soon-to-be-built space.
UMPD Chief Matt Clark said a new entrance on the west end of the building will make the facility more welcoming for students to come and go.
The new space and entrance may also be more inviting to students who don’t want to consult emergency services, Clark said.
Student engagement was a big reason for the expansion, Clark said.
Sgt. Jim Nystrom, part of UMPD’s community engagement team, said the additional space will let the team hold community outreach events in the building.
“Right now, we work in satellite areas and make space where it’s available in terms of interactions with faculty, staff and students,” he said. “If our building has the ability... we can create those events in-house.”
Nystrom also said that consolidating divisions will enable more efficient communication within the University’s Department of Public Safety.
UMPD officers rarely interact with student security under the current arrangement, he said.
“All of the entities are under one roof. It’s not just an email here or a phone call there,” he said. “You get more of a face-to-face opportunity to work with the individuals.”
The central location of the Transportation and Safety Building will help UMPD and other public safety divisions patrol events around campus, Clark said.
“We’re always managing the Northrop events or events at TCF Bank Stadium. We’ll have a security presence, so we have a lot of contact with athletics and performing arts as well as students affairs,” he said. “Instead of having things spread out, we’d like to have it all in one spot.”
The project is currently in the planning stage. University Capital Planning and Project Management will be undertaking the project with the help of an outside architectural firm. The expansion is expected to break ground next year.