More officers from the Minneapolis Police Department and the University of Minnesota's police force will begin patrolling Dinkytown this week after a recent surge of violent crime in the area.
Five people were shot Friday night near the corner of SE. 14th Avenue and SE. 4th Street in Dinkytown, the well-known Minneapolis area bordering the U's main campus. Three of the victims were U students, university President Joan Gabel confirmed Monday. All five suffered noncritical gunshot wounds — two were grazed by bullets — and all were taken by ambulance to hospitals.
"We are working around the clock to ensure that every member of our University family feels safe and supported in every sense of those words, even amidst these alarming incidents and trends," Gabel wrote in a message to students and employees. "We know we must do more to address crime in the surrounding neighborhoods."
Crime near campus has spiked recently, much of it happening in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood near the university, which includes Dinkytown. Just last month, there were 15 robberies, 15 car thefts and 11 aggravated assaults reported in Marcy-Holmes, according to the U's Office for Off-Campus Living. In many of the recent robberies, suspects brandished firearms and assaulted victims.
In March, a boy was killed and a man injured in a late-night shooting near Burrito Loco in Dinkytown.
The Friday night shooting stemmed from an altercation between a man and woman that started outside Blarney Pub and Grill, said Sgt. Paul Albers of the Minneapolis Police Department's violent crimes investigation team. As they walked toward the intersection of SE. 14th Avenue and SE. 4th Street, the man opened fire, hitting the woman and four bystanders, Albers said.
Police are still searching for the suspect.
On Monday, Gabel outlined several steps the university will take to increase safety near campus.
Minneapolis police will be "much more present and visible" in the area during late-night hours, Gabel said. The University of Minnesota Police Department will pay its officers overtime to patrol Dinkytown and the larger Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. Both police departments will install mobile surveillance cameras in the area.
The U will aim to install additional security cameras throughout the summer and will work with the city of Minneapolis to seek additional street lighting in Dinkytown. The school is also considering creating a safety ambassador program in which citizens would help patrol the streets, Gabel said.
University Police Chief Matthew Clark said he expects more officers to patrol the area until at least the start of the fall semester to ensure that "as students, faculty and staff come back to campus, it's as safe as possible." The university is planning for most classes and services to operate in person this fall, returning to pre-pandemic normalcy.
Clark noted that crime occurring on the actual grounds of the Twin Cities campus has stayed relatively flat, unlike the surrounding neighborhoods.
"The president's been clear that we need to help the city and Dinkytown," Clark said. "We want them to know that when students come back to campus, this is a relatively safe campus to be on."
The U's increased collaboration with Minneapolis police comes about a year after the university distanced itself from the embattled department in response to the killing of George Floyd in police custody. Gabel announced the U would no longer contract with Minneapolis police for security at large events such as football games. The Minneapolis and campus police departments continued to collaborate on joint patrols and investigations, however, disappointing student activists who wanted the university to sever all ties with the city police.
Abdulaziz Mohamed, incoming undergraduate student body president, said he supports Gabel's response to the recent crime surge, including her call for more officers to patrol the area. Efforts to increase street lighting and surveillance are also important, he said.
"It's going to take all of us to solve the issue of crime on campus," Mohamed said.
Local business owners are urging university and city leaders to crack down on area crime before thousands of students return in the fall.
"It's in their best interest to not let Dinkytown become a bad spot because it's going to damage the reputation of the U," said Randal Gast, owner of Qdoba Mexican Eats in Dinkytown and member of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association's board of directors. "And no one wants that."
Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234