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Jan 30, 2014 12:29 PM EST

University of Minnesota Officials Weighing Proposal to Remove Reference to Race from Crime Alerts


University of Minnesota (UM) officials are working with student groups on a proposal that would ban crime alerts from mentioning a person's race.

According to CBS Minnesota, UM officials and black student and faculty organizations are addressing concerns about racial descriptions in crime alerts. The concerns came from a letter sent Dec. 6 signed by several UM black student and faculty groups.

Co-signers of the letter included the school's African American and African Studies department, Black Faculty and Staff Association, Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, Black Men's Forum, Black Student Union and Huntley House for African American Males. It was addressed to UM president Eric Kaler and vice president of university services Pamela Wheelock.

"[We] 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," read the letter. "In addition to causing Black men to feel unsafe and distrusted, racial profiling is proven to inflict negative psychological effects on its victims."

On Nov. 11, 2013, the campus was placed on lockdown following an attempted robbery in Anderson Hall, but the UMPD wrongfully identified the suspect. The school reported Tuesday that 25 robberies had taken place on or near school grounds, a 27 percent increase from recent years.

Wheelock responded with a formal letter of her own Monday. The Dec. 6 letter also made 12 recommendations on how to improve law enforcement's response to reported crimes.

"I am concerned that members of your organizations and others in the University community believe there to be an increase in racial profiling," wrote Wheelock, who disagreed with excluding race from crime alerts. "As I stated earlier profiling will not be tolerated on campus. If there is a concern or complaint about University police practices, both Chief Hestness and I are committed to investigating the matter promptly and thoroughly."

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