The University of Minnesota and Minneapolis police forces are not taking any chances with Spring Jam security this year.
In 2009, the Saturday of Spring Jam was marked by a riot where hundreds of people jumped on cars and started fires on the streets of Dinkytown.
Although it’s been four years since then, the University plans on maintaining a heavy presence of police and private security to monitor the Spring Jam events. Student Unions and Activities, which hosts the events, will spend more than $12,400 for additional police and security this weekend.
“Pretty much everybody that can work at UMPD is going to be working on campus,” said University police Chief Greg Hestness.
University police will mostly be on campus, he said, and their assignments include helping to secure Spring Jam events like Saturday’s Mat Kearney concert.
They will also be running extra patrols near fraternity and sorority houses, said University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner.
For University police, the biggest problem during Spring Jam is alcohol use, Miner said. The combination of music events, parties and warmer weather often results in heavy drinking on campus.
“The Saturday music festival is usually the area of the most concern,” he said.
To assist University police, the University has hired Contemporary Services Corporation security, said University spokesman Tim Busse. CSC staff will be stationed at the weekend concert events.
“We work with them all the time,” Busse said. “They do a pretty good job of helping out our police force.”
Despite the heavy police presence, several University students said they think Spring Jam security isn’t overbearing.
Kinesiology senior Kayla Olinger said she remembered security “cracking down” on Spring Jam events after the 2009 riots. But she said she thinks the security level now is appropriate.
Architecture senior Robbie Anderson agreed with Olinger. He said security does a good job of keeping the large crowds in line.
“It’s what it should be,” he said.
With University police primarily concerned with the events on campus, Minneapolis police will handle most of the security off campus.
“We’re certainly available to respond to off-campus stuff,” Hestness said. “But, from what I understand, Minneapolis police are not really backing off there.”
On Friday and Saturday, Minneapolis police will bring in officers from the city’s five precincts to patrol areas like Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes, Hestness said.
Police will also be on bicycles and horses to control the crowds, with a special operation unit representing Minneapolis police off campus, Hestness said.
Other members of Minneapolis police are working with students and residents to ensure a safe weekend, like Minneapolis crime prevention specialist Nick Juarez.
“Everybody has a little piece to making sure it’s an enjoyable event that doesn’t get out of hand,” he said.
As a CPS, Juarez said his role is primarily educational. He helps to ensure everyone in the University district is prepared for the large crowds and partying that will take place during Spring Jam.
Dinkytown Business Association President Skott Johnson said Minneapolis police have also worked closely with businesses to make sure they are properly staffed for the event.
“It’s actually become a routine,” Johnson said. “We always meet to make sure we are prepared for any major events near campus.”
Although businesses say they’re ready for the crowds, Johnson said he worries less about students and more about people from other parts of the city who come for Spring Jam.
“The problem isn’t Spring Jam itself; it’s the people it attracts,” he said. “There are some people who see it as an opportunity to take advantage of people who have been drinking and partying.”
Juarez shares Johnson’s concern.
“Robberies are always an issue,” Juarez said. “Especially when someone’s under the influence, putting themselves in a vulnerable state.”
Despite these concerns, all those involved in security planning said they believe this year’s Spring Jam should be uneventful.
“The last couple years have been very quiet,” Miner said. “We’re taking lots of preventative measures to ensure it’s a safe event.”