Dear Campus Community,
Recent events around the country and world have further illuminated a host of historic inequities and injustices within society. We have heard the voices calling for change and are prepared to respond with informed action. How we secure our campus and ensure safety are areas that many agree warrant a comprehensive review. UCR is fortunate to have a highly professional police department consisting of caring individuals, many of whom are UCR graduates. But we have a responsibility to ask challenging and fundamental questions about campus safety writ-large and how it aligns with our campus mission and values.
To begin that process, I have appointed a Campus Safety Task Force comprised of students, staff, faculty, and community members, to advise on how we might improve safety, and the feeling of safety, for all members of the UCR community. I have asked this group to take a broad perspective on this assignment, seeking advice on budget, recruitment of officers, training, weapons, use of force, uniforms, community engagement, and oversight. The charge of the task force is detailed below.
I am not asking the Task Force to opine on the issue of whether we should maintain a police force. We are better served as a community by having our own police force, which reflects our values and reports to the campus. Without our own police, we would fall under the jurisdiction of the Riverside Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff. In addition to losing direct oversight and accountability to our campus, reliance on an outside police force would likely increase response times in emergency situations. Additionally, response by those with less knowledge of our campus, facilities, and operations would likely impact effectiveness.
Task Force Charge
The Task Force will review our overall campus safety efforts, focusing primarily on operation of the UCR Police Department and its relationship to other entities on campus and throughout the community. Given the breadth of this charge, the Task Force is free to prioritize topics that they believe to be more important, and not feel compelled to spend equal amounts of time on all aspects of the police department. Nonetheless, I have outlined some specific areas (listed below) for the Task Force to consider.
Mission and Scope of Responsibilities
How do we define campus safety? Is UCPD tasked with the appropriate set of responsibilities? Are we asking them to do things that might better be done by others (e.g. non-violent conflicts or mental health issues)? What portion of the unit’s efforts should be devoted to community engagement, both on and off campus?
Should the campus create an oversight board to assist in monitoring police operations and assist in assessing the department’s performance on an ongoing basis? If such a group were formed, what would be its charge and membership?
What measures should we take to reduce and eliminate systemic racism? Do we have sufficient policies regarding use of force? What should be our uniform and weapons policy – what should all officers carry, what should be available for special situations, and how should they be deployed? Is the present model that relies primarily on police cruisers for monitoring campus optimal?
How should campus safety personnel be hired, trained, and evaluated? What should be the profile of UCPD officers – personal, educational, and professional? What training should be part of the initial appointment and what continuing professional education should be required?
Is the budget appropriate to the needs of the campus and the responsibilities of the police department? Should some resources currently dedicated to the UCPD be redirected toward other programs or departments?
How should UCPD’s effectiveness be assessed beyond crime statistics? How should we account for changing campus community attitudes toward the department, the creation and fostering of positive relationships with campus partners, and the overall feeling of safety by all stakeholders on campus?
I am requesting that the Task Force provide a set of preliminary recommendations for campus review by January 2021. Following campus input, we would begin implementing the task force’s recommendations in March 2021.
Task Force Members
I have appointed the following people to the task force, which will be chaired by Jack B. Clarke, partner at Best Best & Krieger and UCR alumnus (class of ‘79):
• Michelle Burroughs, Member, UCR Black Faculty & Staff Association
• Alton Carswell, Case Manager, Student Affairs
• John Freese, Interim Police Chief (class of ’94)
• Angelica Garcia, ASUCR Vice President of Internal Affairs
• Judit Palencia Gutierrez, Graduate Student Association Vice President
• Brian Haynes, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
• Keona Henderson, President, UCR Black Alumni (class of ’08)
• Hon. Jorge Hernandez, Riverside County Superior Court Judge
• Luis Huerta, ASUCR President
• Evelyn Kennedy, Black Student Alliance
• Mariam Lam, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
• Dennis McIver, President, Staff Assembly
• Brianna Simmons, Graduate Student, Anthropology
• Jason Stajich, Chair, Faculty Senate and Professor of Microbiology & Plant Pathology
• Wade Stern, President, UCR Police Officer Association
• Kim Overdyck, Senior Investigator, Chief Compliance Office
• Thomas Smith, Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
• Bert Wright, Immediate Past President, UCR Black Alumni (class of ’99)
• Nichi Yes, Graduate Student Association President
• Senate Faculty Members, TBD pending input from Committee on Committees
Thank you to everyone who has voiced their concerns about safety in recent months. Also, thank you to the task force members who will work to evaluate needs and opportunities. I look forward to implementing changes that deliver a safer experience for all.