As my colleague, Tim Post, works on his piece on the three sexual assaults at off-campus fraternity houses near the University of Minnesota, I spoke with Inspector Bryan Schafer of the Minneapolis Police Department to get a little police context.
Here are a few comments he had in our conversation.
On whether police see fraternity parties as a public safety nuisance:
(Fraternity partying) really kind of stands out because of the size and the magnitude and the visibility that they have. Up until this past year, and currently this year, I think I would have to say it really wasn’t a safety hazard, it was just a larger group to reckon with whenever we had issues. We had to up the ante. There was more of a propensity for violence to occur because of the sheer numbers of people in those environments. Up to this point it could be deemed as a little bit more of a risk than … a typical party.
On where most of the problems come from:
In most cases, the violent crime issues … most often are people who are coming to the party uninvited, specifically seeking out these parties as an opportunity to prey on innocent victims. We see the same thing with burglaries. These folks work their way into these parties, they work their way into the building. They get into rooms and steal laptop computers. That’s a big trend we’ve seen recently. But despite the recent sexual assaults.. we have virtually seen little or no violent crime, aggravated assault, robbery, some of the things we’ve seen in the past.
On steps fraternities can take to curb the problem (other than not serving alcohol):
Have invitation-only parties – that’s right at the top of the list. Have a central entrance, with someone checking IDs. Put fencing around the lots. Hire private security or law enforcement officers for the larger events.