Office of the President

April 5, 2021- Presidential Task Force on University Policing

Dear Campus Community,  

The Presidential Task Force to Examine University Police Policies and Practices acknowledges the historic and current trauma that exists in policing, and the role policing has played in communities of color. Breonna Taylor and George Floyd dominate the headlines at this moment, but we also recall Desmond Phillips, from our own community, who could have benefited from a reimagined city police response and holistic approach from a care team, rather than officers who are simply not equipped to manage mental health crisis alone. We want our University Police department to engage in positive interactions and have the tools they need to be successful. We hope to change and challenge our department to be one that other police departments will emulate.  

The task force began its work in the late fall by organizing into six pillar groups in alignment with President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (PDF). We quickly learned the 21st Century Report lacked critical perspectives and consideration of our strategic priorities. We have therefore formulated an approach based on our campus experiences, the unique nature of university policing, and where we want to be in the future. All of this is occurring within the context of critical current events related to law enforcement in the United States, and while those larger events have not been the primary focus of our campus-based work, they have continuously informed our efforts.  

Our goal is to provide an outline of areas which should be critically analyzed and engaged by our President and campus community. We expect this to be a continuous process of dialogue and improvement, persisting well into the future. Preliminary recommendations include the creation of a Police Accountability Board composed of campus stakeholders. This group would track progress on reforms, make recommendations for additional changes, review use of force, and provide another level of transparency and accountability for our department. Another preliminary recommendation includes engaging campus partners such as the Departments of Social Work and Psychology and WellCat Counseling for crisis situation planning and response.   

Other themes that have emerged during our work include efforts to: 

  • Strengthen the relationships among UPD and the larger campus community 
  • Create systems of transparent accountability 
  • Ensure public safety 
  • Promote wellness  
  • Center fairness and respect 

We are aware that our work is incomplete without your input and feedback. Below are dates, times, and Zoom links to campus forums where we invite you to share feedback on what campus safety looks like for you. You are welcome to attend one or more—the approach for each session will be the same.  

Additionally, everyone will have an opportunity to leave thoughts, comments, and suggestions via a web form.  We hope you will participate in one of the sessions or provide feedback via the form.   

Our work is your work, and this will require robust engagement and investment from all areas of our campus community. 

Task Force Steering Committee 

  • Robert Morton, Co-Chair 
  • Matt Dillon, Co-Chair 
  • Krystle Tonga 
  • Dr. Matt Thomas 
  • Dr. Nandi Sojourner Crosby 
  • Sandy Parsons 
  • Dr. Michelle Morris 
  • Bre Holbert 
  • Dr. Betsy Boyd 
  • Dr. Brooke Banks