The University of Minnesota has scaled back its relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) following the controversial death of George Floyd, who died in police custody, The Hill reported.
In a letter sent to students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, University President Joan Gabel directed the university’s senior vice president, Brian Burnett, to “no longer contract with the Minneapolis Police Department” for certain services. Those services include extra security at large events such as concerts, football games and the like. The order also forbids the police force from providing “specialized [police] services” to the university, such as K-9 units or bomb-detection units.
Instead, the university will limit its relationship with the Minneapolis police to “joint patrols and investigations that directly enhance the safety of our community,” as well as allowing the department to investigate and/or apprehend anyone who is putting the students, faculty or staff at risk.
In her letter, Gabel spoke of being heartbroken and filled with sadness at the circumstances that led to Floyd’s death.
“Our hearts are broken after watching the appalling video capturing the actions of [MPD] officers against George Floyd… As a community, we are outraged and grief-stricken,” her letter reads in part.
“We have a responsibility to uphold our values and a duty to honor them,” she wrote further.
How the services that the MPD previously provided, and that Gabel is now canceling, will be carried out on-campus in the future remains to be seen.
The university, like many colleges and universities across the country, has its own internal police department, in this case the Department of Public Safety. According to Slate, most such campus police departments are full-fledged police forces, its sworn officers carrying the same rights — making arrests, carrying out searches/seizures, conducting investigations, enforce federal, state and local laws — as regular municipal police officers.
However, such police forces could find their resources overwhelmed in the case of a severe crime spree, such as a mass shooting, or when tens of thousands of outsiders converge on the campus, such as for a concert or a football game.
In the case of the University of Minnesota, its first home football game is tentatively scheduled for September 3. However, the future of that game is in doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic. The game could be played without spectators in the stands, it might not be played at all, or there may not even be students on campus on that date, as the pandemic has put all large gatherings into doubt.