MN Campus Police Cut Racial Descriptions of Suspects


Acting after criticism, the University of Minnesota says it will no longer will include race and other descriptions of suspects in email crime alerts unless there is enough detail to aid in an arrest, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Thirteen protesters were arrested for trespassing on Feb. 9 when they converged on the office of university president Eric Kaler to ask that racial identifiers by eliminated from crime alerts.

In a letter to faculty, staff and students, Kaler said he has been persuaded that suspect descriptions “may unintentionally reinforce racist stereotypes of black men and other people of color as criminals and threats.” Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the school’s journalism school, said the new practice is similar to the judgment news organizations make when deciding whether to publicize a suspect’s description. “I’m in favor of more information rather than less information,” Kirtley said. “They are not a news organization. They are the public safety and security office of a university.”

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