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U of M takes 'multi-pronged' approach to improving campus safety

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The University of Minnesota's new plan to improve security on its Minneapolis campus involves a combination of safety workshops, more police, brighter lights, and late-night buses.

WCCO reports the safety plan rolled out by the U of M Tuesday includes self-defense classes and workshops for students, some of which could be taken for academic credit. Transportation enhancements include keeping buses running later and starting a new weekend circulator. New fixtures being installed in selected areas will also provide brighter light, the university says.

The Star Tribune reports that three new campus police officers were added last month, bringing the total to 50. As the newspaper notes, a rash of robberies and assaults in the fall raised concerns about safety on the Twin Cities campus.

In announcing the new initiative, University President Eric Kaler pointed out that the number of major crimes on campus has been declining for 11 years and that trend continued in 2013. But some high-profile incidents last fall put students on edge and led to an online petition demanding security improvements.

In the university's statement Kaler says "Our campus and surrounding neighborhoods must be a safe place for the University community to study, work and live." The U of M has an overview of the plan at its SafeU web page.

Minnesota Public Radio reports dozens of new security cameras are also part of the plan, which Kaler will discuss with students at a town-hall forum.

Laptop computers and cellphones are common targets in campus robberies. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar visited the university Tuesday to promote legislation that would make a kill switch mandatory with smartphones. Such a switch would allow a theft victim to remotely render a stolen phone inoperable. Klobuchar says one-third of the robberies in the U.S. involve cellphones.

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