Public university officials discussing proposal which would ban mention of race in crime alerts

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • Black student, staff, and faculty groups want mentions of race banished from school's crime alerts.
  • Groups recommend members of university's police department receive mandatory diversity training.
  • University of Minnesota (UM) officials are discussing a proposal which would ban any mention of race when describing a suspect in a crime alert.

    The officials are discussing the matter with student and faculty groups who wrote a letter to the school claiming that the use of racial descriptions in crime alerts leads to racial profiling, according to the local CBS affiliate website.

    "Efforts to reduce crime should never be at the expense of our Black men, or any specific group of people likely to be targeted."   

    In a December 6, 2013 letter to UM President Eric Kaler and the Vice President of University Services Pamela Wheelock, several black student, faculty, and staff groups wrote that they "unanimously agree that campus safety should be of the UMPD's utmost importance; however, efforts to reduce crime should never be at the expense of our Black men, or any specific group of people likely to be targeted."

    The letter included a list of 12 recommendations to give to UMPD Chief Gregory Hestness, such as requiring the school’s officers to attend diversity training and linking back to the school’s no-tolerance policy on racial profiling with each crime alert.

    In a mailed response, Wheelock said that while she is concerned the groups believe there’s an upswing in racial profiling, she believes “that sharing more information, not less, is most beneficial in terms of public safety, especially when that information is available," she said.

    The groups mailed the letter more than a month after a Nov. 11 campus lockdown because of an attempted robbery in which UM police wrongly identified a student as the suspect.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter @kctimpf

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