Law Officials Update Minn. Senate Panel on Stepped Up Campus Security

Updated: 12/10/2013 7:09 PM By: Kate Renner

Crime has been a big problem on the University of Minnesota's main campus in Minneapolis. Now police are bringing their concerns to state senators hoping to find a solution to the muggings, robberies and sexual assaults. That rash of reported crimes on or near college campuses isn't just worrying students and their parents, it's also worrying lawmakers.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek spoke to the Higher Education Committee about a type of common theft called "apple picking."

"They'll find someone walking, alone with their iPhones to send a text, or update their status on Facebook. Some one will attempt to take it by force. Once they take it they don't keep it, the phone is sold for $200 to $400, easy cash," said Stanek.

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office has increased their patrols around campus by four deputies on Thursday through Saturday nights.

Minneapolis Police Department's 2nd precinct upped their officers by six to eight as a part of their campus crime prevention strategy.

Ramsey County has recently participated in three college training exercises, they say that ongoing relationship means communication is smoother and coordination is better, in the case of a real campus emergency.

"Schools are much safer and much more comfortable in contacting their local law enforcement officials and reporting crimes and security concerns," said Ramsey County Chief Deputy John Kirkwood.

St. Paul Police Department is working on a date rape initiative to help bars near campus identify and prevent date raping.

University of Minnesota Police Chief Greg Hestness is one of many officers from metro law enforcement agencies talking to the Higher Education Committee.

Hestness says his crew has worked more than 200 hours of overtime hours as a response to recent burglaries. He's noticed a few trends when looking at robberies over the past three years.

First, it doesn't just happen to people who are alone; Criminals will seek out groups of two or three. Second, most incidents happened between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Thirdly, in half the robberies guns were used.

This was just an informational hearing. The chair of the Higher Education Committee Senator Terri Bonoff is not proposing a bill.