U of M changes approach to suspect descriptions in Crime Alerts

On Feb. 25, 2015, the University of Minnesota announced a change in its approach to the use of suspect descriptions in Crime Alerts on the Twin Cities campus.

When the information available is so general as to not reasonably help identify a suspect or suspects, the University will note in Crime Alerts that only a limited suspect description is available. If there is sufficient information to aid our community in identifying a specific individual suspect (e.g., some combination of gender, race, clothing, height, body type, build, accent, tattoos, hair color, facial hair, etc.), we will continue to include that information. The U’s Chief of Police and Vice President for University Services will decide whether to include a suspect description in a Crime Alert on a case-by-case basis. The time, place and nature of the crime that occurred will continue to be included in each Crime Alert.

We are not removing race from suspect descriptions. When a suspect description is included in the crime alert, we will continue to use race, along with other identifying characteristics that could help individuals stay safe.

The safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors is one of the University’s highest priorities. Public safety has been the focal point of an ongoing dialogue on campus since Fall 2013. This new approach advances public safety by providing useful, actionable information that community members can use to keep themselves safe,  while reflecting the University’s commitment to ensuring a welcoming and diverse campus.

For more information, read the campuswide email from President Eric Kaler and Pamela Wheelock, vice president for University Services. You may review frequently asked questions, located here.

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