University of Minnesota launches 'targeted law enforcement presence' amid crime wave

The University of Minnesota is teaming up with police on a "targeted law enforcement presence" in Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes areas of Minneapolis amid an increase in crime as of late. 

Called "Operation Gopher Guardian," this initiative will run the weekends of November 4-5 and November 11-12, from Friday and Saturday evenings to the early morning hours. 

Operation Gopher Guardian will involve up to 10 additional officers from the University of Minnesota Police Department and Minneapolis Police Department, with officers working overtime and being paid by the University of Minnesota.  

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The U of M says, "This short-term initiative provides additional focused attention to specific areas near campus, and is designed to enhance safety and be responsive to the needs of our University community."

The University sends out crime alerts for Dinkytown (click here to sign up) and SAFE-U notifications (click here to sign up). 

Crime is on the minds of many students, parents, and faculty at the University of Minnesota, after continued reports of stolen cars and items near campus this school year.

"In the last week, in particular, we saw some activity on the weekend that we felt was getting out of hand, and we thought maybe this would be an opportunity to respond," UMN Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations Myron Frans told FOX 9 on Wednesday.

Frans’ response is to bring additional police officers to the area over the next two weekends. Four officers will come from the University of Minnesota Police force, and six more from Minneapolis Police; to supplement the regular police staff on the ground. These extra patrols will spread out on the streets during nighttime hours, when officials are seeing crime peak in the Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes neighborhoods.

"We’re just trying to make sure that whoever shows up there will be consequences.  They want to cause trouble, we want to put a stop to that and arrest them and make them face the charges that they should face," Frans said. He estimates that at one point in the last two years, crime off-campus was up by as much as 45%.

"I generally feel safe when I can see the school, anything beyond there is a little bit iffier," student Reece Holmdahl admitted.

Now school leaders are trying to change that, but their effort "Operation Gopher Guardian" will require overtime hours, which will be paid for by the university, "it’s in tens of thousands of dollars, it’s not cheap, but we feel that doesn’t really matter. This is one of those situations where we need to react quickly," Frans finished.