New U of M police chief pledges good relations between cops, campus

A year after African-American students at the University of Minnesota complained they were being racially profiled, the university's new chief of police pledged to foster good ties between officers and the community.

Matthew Clark, a former assistant chief in the Minneapolis Police Department, was sworn in on Wednesday. He replaced Greg Hestness, who retired this month.

Clark is taking his post during a relatively calm period at the university. More than a year ago, a spike in campus-area crime unsettled students and their families.

During the crime surge, some students petitioned the university to beef up the police presence on campus. But the police response sparked complaints from African-American students.

At his swearing-in ceremony, Clark told officers and university leaders at his ceremony that he wants the police force to maintain a good relationship with people on campus. "Perceptions weigh heavily on what we do and how we do it," he said.

Clark said numbers show the university is safer than many other parts of the city. He said he and his officers would focus on being visible.

"Getting that message across is very important," he said. "[It] doesn't mean there's not room for improvement — or room to focus on crime issues. But statistically, it's one of the safest places to be."

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