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Campus crime trending downward, but recent spike has U of M on edge

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Thousands of University of Minnesota students have signed an online petition demanding a greater police presence on the Minneapolis campus in the wake of recent crimes.

But the Minnesota Daily reports that, recent incidents notwithstanding, campus crime has actually been declining for years. Minneapolis police tell the student newspaper the campus is relatively safe compared to other neighborhoods. They say the precinct that includes most of the campus is the safest in the city.

But that's not the perception of more than 3,000 students who have signed the petition. It begins "We have reached the breaking point," and goes on to say the crime level on campus is unacceptable and is taking a toll on students' lives.

Organizers say the petition will be delivered to U of M President Eric Kaler, police, and state legislators. It calls for an increased police presence and more cooperation between the university and city police departments. The petitioners also cite potential consequences, writing "Many of us are applying to transfer because we cannot tolerate feeling so unsafe and vulnerable."

The petition refers to a number of recent crimes, although a university spokesman tells MPR the description of one of the incidents is not accurate.

The Daily reports some on campus believe the use of social media and text alerts to spread the word about incidents adds to the worries about crime.

Two incidents this month - a sexual assault and an attempted robbery - garnered widespread attention. This past weekend police reported a female student was sexually assaulted by a man who claimed to be a police officer.

A couple of weeks earlier the university sent a mid-afternoon text alert advising students on the west bank to seek shelter because a gunman had tried to rob a student of her laptop, then fled into the tunnel system connecting campus buildings. Both cases remain under investigation.

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