Minneapolis police are partnering up with campus police at the University of Minnesota to combat underage drinking, which officers say is a contributing factor in many incidents.
UMPD Chief Greg Hestness said intoxicated individuals, especially those who are underage, are easy marks for would-be criminals.
“A lot of victims were under the influence of alcohol, which made them easy targets for crimes,” said Hestness in reference to a string of robberies that hit the UM campus last fall. “Not in all cases, but it’s a factor.”
The university has long since trumpeted its “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to underage drinking, but punishing the crime and taking active steps to prevent it are two different matters. Under added pressure from student and parent groups, campus police sent three plainclothes officers to popular drinking destinations during the first weekend of September. They issued 89 underage drinking citations in Dinkytown and the other two undisclosed locations, and they say they plan to continue sending undercover officers to the areas in an effort to prevent intoxicated students from becoming victims.
Minneapolis police inspector Kathy Waite said not only are intoxicated students easy targets for thieves, but they’re often too inebriated to assist in the investigation.
“Most of our victims are heavily under the influence of alcohol,” said Waite. “They don’t even necessarily recall where they were. It makes it extremely difficult to move forward on those investigations.”
Hestness added that he might be seen as “blaming the victim,” but he noted that being intoxicated and walking alone certainly “increase your risk” of being targeted by criminals.
Although the Zombie Pub Crawl is in the rear view mirror, Halloween is a few weeks away and partiers should take some steps to help ensure their safety, including:
• Avoid becoming extremely intoxicated.
• Avoid wandering off by yourself – Stay with your group.
• Keep your guard up for any suspicious individuals.
• Report any suspicious activity.
• Utilize public transportation, like cabs, buses or Uber to get home quickly and safely.
We always tend to see an uptick in calls on Halloween, and with the holiday falling on a Friday this year, we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a noticeable uptick in crime. This doesn’t mean there will be more cases of assault of theft, but certain juvenile crimes like disturbing the peace (ding dong ditching) and vandalism (teepeeing) are commonplace on All Hallows Eve. We don’t condone the activity, but if you find yourself in a pair of handcuffs after a Halloween prank goes awry, call us. We’ll be on call through the night and can get you out of jail quickly.
Related source: Star Tribune