Regents OK $4M campus safety plan

The initiative will go toward more lighting, security and surveillance.
University President Eric Kaler attends the Board of Regents meeting Friday morning at the McNamara Alumni Center. The regents approved a plan for about $4 million in spending on safety initiatives this semester.
February 17, 2014

By the end of the spring semester, University of Minnesota students will see illuminated pathways with increased video surveillance on and near campus.

The University’s Board of Regents approved a plan Friday to reallocate $4.1 million to fund safety upgrades that will increase surveillance, lighting and security throughout campus.

“This is a substantial response to what is an unfortunate situation,” said University President Eric Kaler  at a Thursday committee meeting. “We will not let this University suffer in reputation nor in the safety of our students to a handful of thugs.”

A bulk of the sum — $3.5 million — will be used to secure East Bank buildings with U Card readers. Thirty buildings will be upgraded each month and the project should be completed by the end of the semester, said Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock. Seven buildings on the West Bank underwent access upgrades as part of a pilot program launched earlier this month.

The multi million-dollar safety initiative will use funds originally planned for smaller projects like sidewalk maintenance, window replacements and exterior building repairs.

About $350,000 will go into adding surveillance around campus, including cameras outside some University buildings.

The exterior cameras will help the school and police understand what’s happening on and near campus, Wheelock said. She said Minneapolis recently agreed to add more cameras in the 2nd Precinct, which includes the Marcy-Holmes and Southeast Como neighborhoods.

The University will also assess roads and pathways near residence halls, parking facilities and other popular areas around campus to see where lighting and surveillance can be improved, Wheelock said.

“We’re trying to create incentives for people to use those well-trafficked pathways,” she said.

The University will create a campaign to promote the best pathways for students to use once officials determine what those roads are, Wheelock said.

Some of the funds will also go toward pay for police officers’ overtime hours and more student security monitors with increased wages.

During a Thursday committee meeting on the safety plan, University police Chief Greg Hestness said the increased police presence has curbed crime and the new initiatives will continue making campus safer.

“We’re really out there making great efforts,” he said.

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