St. Thomas Public Safety Offers Additional Information Regarding U of M Sexual Assault Alert

The University of St. Thomas Public Safety Department has provided additional information and advice regarding a sexual assault alert that was issued recently by the University of Minnesota Police Department.

The suspect in the University of Minnesota incident on Sunday, Nov. 24, claimed to be, and was dressed similarly to, a police officer. A similar incident also was reported to have occurred in Fridley.

(The original St. Thomas Public Safety advisory was issued Monday, Nov. 25, and can be found here.) (PDF)

Due to the alarming nature of these incidents and descriptions of the suspect involved, St. Thomas Public Safety has prepared these additional personal safety tips, particularly when you come in contact with law enforcement.

  • Police officers will identify themselves upon making contact with you.
  • Police officers, particularly in uniform, should have multiple identifying marks in addition to a badge, such as patches, and even an ID card that identifies what agencies they are with.  Patches should be visible on shirts as well as jackets.
  • A badge should indicate an officer’s number and the agency he or she works for.
  • Ask for a business card and/or a case number. This will indicate there’s a record of the contact.
  • If necessary, ask for additional agency information, such as contact information for a patrol supervisor.

It is very unusual for a police officer to randomly approach someone and offer a ride. If a police officer is making a lawful contact, the officer should be able to provide all of the above information. If you are not being lawfully detained or arrested, and you fear for your safety, leave and get to a safe place. Call 911 immediately.

Additional safety tips:

  • Report crimes and suspicious activity immediately to Public Safety and the police.
  • Be alert for people in buildings or residence halls who appear suspicious. You know the areas that you live and work in best. If in doubt, notify Public Safety.
  • Trust your instincts. Awareness and avoidance are your most effective tools. If a situation becomes uncomfortable or unsettling, get to a safe place immediately.
  • Remember suspect information, including approximate age, height, weight and details on hair, clothing, jewelry, scars, tattoos, vehicle information and last direction of travel – anything noticeable.
  • If you live off campus and see suspicious people at your door or on your property, contact the police immediately. Do not open doors for strangers.
  • Call Public Safety to escort you to your destination.
  • Walk in groups; there is safety in numbers. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Stay in populated, well-lit areas.
  • Do not wear earphones when walking or running alone outside, especially if it is dark. This potentially cuts off audible signals of threats to your safety.
  • Travel safely at unsafe times of day.