Amid protests, University of Minnesota drops suspect’s race in crime alerts

The University of Minnesota, which has seen protests in recent weeks about campus diversity, announced Wednesday that it will stop sending out alerts with vague descriptions of suspects in serious crimes.

Pamela Wheelock, the school’s vice president, told The Star Tribune that the suspect’s description will only be provided in cases with “sufficient detail that would help identify a specific individual or group.”

“We need to have enough information about a suspect so that somebody can reasonably use that information to help keep themselves safe,” Wheelock said. “Unless we have a sufficiency of information, we’re not actually going to use any suspect information.”

It was unclear how much information would need to be collected in order to pass that threshold.

But Wheelock told the paper that black men in particular “have shared that suspects' descriptions negatively impact their sense of safety.”

In a letter to faculty, staff and students, President Eric Kaler said  the routine use of a person’s race in those descriptions “may unintentionally reinforce stereotypes of black men and other people of color, as criminals and threats.”

The issue is one raised by the group Whose Diversity, which staged a sit-in at Kaler’s office earlier this month. Kaler says he’s been “moved by the personal experiences” conveyed to him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.