Campus Safety Independent Review Task Force Update
September 28, 2018
Dear Loyola Community:
Last spring, I convened an independent investigation guided by a task force of Loyola community members and external higher education leaders to examine an incident between Campus Safety officers and students that occurred outside Gentile Arena on February 24, 2018. The University contracted with the respected firm of Hillard Heintze to carry out an independent investigation into allegations of racial profiling and excessive force related to the incident. The report reviewed the incident from a number of perspectives and offered a set of recommendations.
Campus Safety plays a critical role in ensuring the safe and effective functioning of our campus community, and we have confidence in the professional conduct of our department and its officers. We were reassured that the investigation found no racial profiling by Campus Safety officers in this incident and that the level of force used in the incident was not excessive. Nevertheless, our campus reflects the larger dynamics in our society, and just like every member of the campus community, our Campus Safety Department is dedicated to learning from incidents like this. The task force offered an opportunity to use the results of the independent investigation as a means of facilitating discussions from different perspectives, focused on ways we might improve perceptions and enhance the effectiveness of our campus police. I believe we can and must learn from every difficult interaction between police and the communities they serve, so that we understand how to do better. To that end, the task force developed a series of recommendations aimed directly at building greater trust and transparency between Campus Safety officers and our campus community which they serve.
Recommendations and Response
The task force concurred with the recommendations of the Hillard Heintze investigation. These recommendations included:
- Implementing body cameras for Campus Safety officers;
- Addressing coverage gaps and prioritizing placement of surveillance cameras in high traffic and other areas;
- Establishing a system to track and review Campus Safety officers’ engagement with voluntary contact stops through the use of stop cards and a data system for recording that information;
- Establishing a working group that would convene regularly to provide transparency and accountability regarding complaints against Campus Safety officers;
- Providing enhanced crowd and protest management training for Campus Safety officers and joint training with students on procedures and guidelines; and
- Restructuring and developing a shared community-policing program that provides our Campus Safety officers and our students with input and education.
Loyola University is at various stages of implementing a number of these recommendations.
Body Cameras for Campus Safety Officers. Over the summer, we invested in and began equipping all of our Campus Safety officers with body cameras and initiated training for officers in the use of this technology. We have developed a draft policy around the use of body cameras in the field, as well as the storage, processing and review of body camera video. This draft policy is based on state law and standards used by police departments around the country, with clear provisions for the storage, preservation and use of the recorded material to resolve disputes. This draft policy will be reviewed, enhanced and finalized after additional input is solicited from the campus community through the Campus Safety working group that is in the process of being established.
Video Surveillance Coverage. We regularly revisit our video surveillance policies, strategies and camera locations, including the video surveillance coverage currently in place, to determine its adequacy and efficacy. Video surveillance is just one of many tools the University employs to ensure a safe campus environment and community. Practice and policies are aimed at ensuring an inclusive, safe campus, with a balance sought between protection, openness and hospitality, and individual privacy. The current video surveillance policy may be viewed here.
Police Stop Tracking System. Campus Safety is developing a system to track and review their officers’ engagement with individuals in investigatory stops on campus. Informally called “stop cards,” these brief forms will record demographic and other information on the stops that will then be entered into a database. This information will provide documentation if a complaint is made and, over time, will make it possible to evaluate the frequency and effectiveness of Campus Safety interactions and identify patterns in those interactions.
Professional Development. With the success of the men’s basketball team we expect larger crowds coming to the Lake Shore Campus more frequently this fall and winter, and we are supplementing ongoing professional development for Campus Safety officers and other University personnel in crowd control and event management. The size and frequency of these additional events and crowds will necessitate changes and accommodations by many on the Lake Shore Campus as we welcome many more visitors to these special events.
Community Policing. Campus Safety, together with students, faculty and staff in our community, will collaborate in the implementation of a program called “Campus Safety at the Speed of Trust.” As part of that program, diversity and inclusion experts will partner with Campus Safety and Student Development professionals in a training program that will be rolled out sequentially this year to a widening circle – first for Campus Safety personnel, Student Development staff and residence hall communities, and then to off-campus students, faculty and staff. Campus Safety at the Speed of Trust will emphasize trust, character and responsibility in building strong and reciprocal relationships between the campus community and its law enforcement personnel, with the shared goals of a safe and inclusive campus environment. I strongly encourage all members of our community to attend these important sessions.
Working Group on Campus Safety. The task force identified a need for more campus community engagement and input in Campus Safety operations. I have asked Thomas Kelly, Senior Vice President for Administrative Services, to establish during this fall semester, an advisory working group composed of students, faculty and staff. This advisory working group is charged with the specific tasks of reviewing and making recommendations about the body camera policy, reviewing the array of existing training programs in Campus Safety and recommending enhancements, creating a forum for feedback from the campus community, and providing input into issues of campus safety, security, inclusivity, and equity. This working group will not adjudicate complaints against campus police officers – instead, it will provide community review and input on policies and practices such as video surveillance, body cameras and training, and also provide direct input to University and Campus Safety leadership on Campus Safety operations.
Reporting Complaints of Bias. The task force identified a need for a more accessible and responsive system for students reporting instances of racial bias or other equity concerns, whether it involves faculty, staff or fellow students. I have asked Jane Neufeld, Vice President for Student Development, and Dr. Will Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students, to examine the current EthicsLine reporting process and explore opportunities for developing a more robust, transparent and supportive process for reporting, responding and resourcing possible instances of bias on campus. We will communicate more details and seek input from the working group and the campus community on this bias monitoring, counseling and advocacy process as it is developed and implemented over the next few months. Once again, this is a campus community effort – feedback and active engagement by the entire campus community will be integral to its success.
We are implementing these recommendations at a time when we are examining as a campus community the larger issue of diversity, identity and inclusion in a series of college-based listening sessions using data from the Diversity Climate Survey released last spring. I am grateful to Dr. Winifred Williams, Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for her continuing leadership and work advancing this important community discussion. Additionally, later this fall, our Jesuit university will conduct a communal mission priority Examen, in which we will review how we have aligned our Jesuit mission and values of social justice and respect for all individuals and how our future choices will help us continue to develop a community that truly lives those values and aspires to always do better and embrace the magis.
We will maintain ongoing dialogue and communications about these various efforts and issues during the coming year. I deeply appreciate the sharing of time, thought and perspectives of the task force and those efforts of administrators, staff and students who are and will be involved in implementing these responses. As a community, we all create a campus where students, faculty, staff and visitors feel safe, comfortable and welcome. Our aspiration will always be to build a community of authentic hospitality and inclusive excellence.
Thank you for all you do every day, for our students, for each other, for others in the world--and for Loyola University Chicago.
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD
Update: See the Joint Statement published May 10, 2019, available here.