Northwestern to reconsider University Police duties after external review


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

The Weber Arch. The University announced it would reconsider the responsibilities of NUPD following an external review.

Megan Munce, Campus Editor

The University is considering several revisions to the Department of Safety and Security, which encompasses the University Police.

In a Tuesday email, Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Craig Johnson said the University is “rethinking Northwestern’s public safety practices” after conversations with community members, an external review of DSS and the feedback of the Community Safety Advisory Board.

According to the report on the DSS, the two external reviewers conducted over 80 community conversations and focus groups with undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, administration, staff and law enforcement members. These groups included NU Community Not Cops, Northwestern College Republicans and their advisor, deans from each graduate and undergraduate school and librarians.

“Both the community engagement and operational review found stakeholders broadly agree there is an urgent need for systemic change in campus safety practices,” the report read. “Many people of color, particularly Black students, feel pain and fear when seeing or interacting with a campus safety officer.”

The review advanced several recommendations with three overarching themes: “to rebuild trust through community engagement,” “redirect resources towards more appropriate responses” and “increase accountability and transparency of campus security.”

Many of the recommendations included increasing community interactions with public safety officers “especially in residence halls,” such as placing officers in “small, but visible” spaces to increase informal engagement and encouraging interaction by using more foot patrols.

The report also made recommendations to the Safety and Security Code of Conduct and Ethics that includes monitoring DSS officers’ social media engagement with extremist language and hate groups.

In the email, Johnson said the University would complete four specific actions by June — reconsidering DSS’s role in student mental health response, reviewing DSS’s current services and whether it should be performing them, rerouting complaints about safety services to outside DSS and revising the use of racial identifiers in campus crime alerts. These recommendations were made both by the external reviewers and by the CSAB.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @meganmuncie

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