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Accessing Public Documents

Walking into the University of Minnesota Police Department on campus, I was met by a consultant/secretary behind a glass window and I asked to see the most recent crime-incident reports and was handed a packet of papers that I sifted through. I found several police reports of theft on campus and consumption of alcohol by a minor and even came across the bomb threat that occurred earlier last week on campus in Smith hall.

Before I was handed the police reports I was asked what my intentions were for accessing these documents. I responded on my own accord even though I knew it wasn't necessary. After I paged through weeks worth of police reports in search of suicide attempts or anything related to student suicide rates, I found two incident reports and had the secretary make photocopies for me. However, before he did he asked my name and recorded it in a book. I assume the police department keeps note of anyone who requests to look at public documents for reasons of suspicion since it seems like a fairly uncommon thing to do. I was given the name and number of Deputy Chief Steve Johnson however, who I was told would have documents concerning student suicide rates.

The two crime-incident reports that I photocopied were interesting to read through.
----the identities of the individuals who reported the suspicious note found in a men's restroom were released in the report which was described as a bomb threat on campus April 18th.
----the other was a report of disorderly conduct outside Sgt Preston's Bar after close on April 19th.
the name of the individual that was arrested is released along with his age, birth date, gender, and the crime that he was charged with.


Oooh .. the names of the people who found (or said they found) the bomb threat note. Juicy indeed.

There is no reason for the police to record your name when you request records. Those documents belong to you (and the rest of the public). So it's b--s--t. Perhaps they'll claim knowing the identity of visitors is for the sake security within their own facility. Maybe I'll ask Dave Aeikens.