At times I wonder why the University of Minnesota even tells us anything at all about crimes. Is it a scare-tactic to be vague with details, not giving crucial information to the general public/student body, while allowing those to speculate, while criminals run at large? Is it to show they (campus police and administration) are on it… they have an idea of what is going on—control, perhaps? How useful are these “crime alert” emails? What purpose do they serve?
Recently, because of issues with defining distinct aspects of an individual’s appearance, make-up, within crime reports: assumed generalizations, problematic language, suggested stereotypes, and the political correctness of the University etc., the student body no longer has access to pertinent and informative accounts/descriptions of suspects who commit crimes on victims at gunpoint, near or around campus.
Not only is the act of ambiguity within these emails confusing, it, perhaps, enables more crime. Perchance, if a criminal were under the impression that said criminal’s description were forbidden from being released to the general public/student body, then why would that criminal be apprehensive about committing the same crime again? It appears to me that if there are no repercussions to committing a crime, why would a criminal not do it again? Sharing the identity, description, appearance of a suspect is imperative to creating a safe community, and particularly a safe and informed campus.
To be straightforward, if a person commits a crime, the gender, sex, attire, and physical appearance witnessed, of that person, comes into play as that person’s identity. That unique identity, make-up, appearance, description, and those characteristics of a person, do not have the right to be protected or withheld from the general public by the administration, specifically for the safety of the law abiding citizen. If I walk outside, my identity is visible—I am visibly unique as an individual, as most. A victim should have the right to be able to use and share that information to help identify a suspect, while informing others of this information.
These aimless emails, “crime alerts”, do nothing to create community awareness, they only act as vague warnings to those who venture out into society, while shielding actual criminals. Perhaps “crime alerts” should say: be afraid, stay inside, and fear the unknown. Have people not seen No Country for Old Men? In the film protagonists are searching for a suspect, an amateur sheriff suggest they radio a description of the suspect, the wise sheriff counters by suggesting, “Well, what are we searching at… looking for a man who has recently drunk milk?” The wise sheriff does this as he takes a sip from a glass of milk. At least give some form of description, or these emails serve no purpose whatsoever.
One thing I have learned at the University of Minnesota is that if you want to write something, anything, have a purpose for writing, declare an idea/concept, and make an attempt to prove that idea/concept. My idea/concept is that these alerts/reports are essentially useless, unless they give detailed descriptions of the perpetrator.
Moreover, the student body receives emails of this type evermore frequently (especially in the warm months), with little to no detail of the culprit. I say, let someone else write these emails, someone with more imagination, if you want to keep them vague. Perhaps have a sketch artist come in, draw a cartoon, I don’t know. I say, give me the opportunity to write the email. Every email would be the same, non-descriptive and useless, and go something like this: A human being robbed another human being. I thought you should know. Try to be safe out there.
Here is an example, unedited, of the emails the University of Minnesota student body receives when a crime occurs:
Crime Alert: Twin Cities Campus
“On Wednesday, April 15 at approximately 12:25 a.m., a robbery occurred off campus near the intersection of 27th Avenue SE and Talmage Avenue SE. The incident occurred in close proximity to the Como Student Community Cooperative. One of the two victims is a University of Minnesota student. The second victim is not affiliated with the University.
The victims were talking outside one of their vehicles when two suspects approached, threatened them with a gun, and demanded their valuables. The suspects took the victims’ wallet, cell phone and purse. The cell phone was later recovered after the suspects threw it into a nearby yard. Neither victim was injured.
The suspects fled to a car waiting on Talmage Avenue with a third suspect in the driver’s seat and the vehicle drove away westbound on Como Avenue. Detailed suspect descriptions are not available at this time.
Minneapolis Police are investigating this off-campus crime. Anyone with information is asked to call the Minneapolis Police Tip Line at 612-692-8477 and reference case number MP-15-132388.”