Magazine article University Business

Suspects' Race Dropped from Some Campus Crime Alerts

Magazine article University Business

Suspects' Race Dropped from Some Campus Crime Alerts

Article excerpt

Race has been eliminated from some suspect descriptions included in crime alerts sent out by two major public universities. University of Maryland and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities made the change after minorities on campus raised concerns about profiling. Police agreed that descriptions limited to race did little to help track down suspects.

"It certainly doesn't help students act as the eyes and ears of police if we've put out information they find offensive and view with disgust and disdain," says University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell.

Maryland instituted its policy two years ago and Minnesota followed suit this February. Maryland sends email and text alerts to about 60,000 people after a serious crime has occurred. Race or ethnicity is not included in the suspect's description if it is the only characteristic provided by a crime victim or witness. Race, however, is noted if police have received an extensive description that also includes a suspect's height and weight, and specific details about facial hair, clothing or weapons, Mitchell says.

Black students and faculty at Maryland said others on campus viewed them suspiciously when alerts urged people, for example, to be on the lookout for an African-American male. …

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