Abolish campus policing and empower SLCPD – The Daily Utah Chronicle
In June 2020, the student-led group Unsafe U called for the dissolution of the University of Utah Police Department. Later in the month, Daily Utah Chronicle writer Morgan Barron objected to the idea. Instead, she argued that the campus police should stay put, but receive much less funding. She also noted that student opinion would mean a lot less with an outside department taking jurisdiction.
Both sides of this argument of keeping or removing campus policing makes sense. Finding a balance between student safety and student confidence in the university is proving difficult. People generally think of the police as a good thing for a community. But since student confidence in the campus police seems unrecoverable, the U’s best interest may be to cede jurisdiction to the Salt Lake City Police Department.
The consequences of the elimination of all police services
Departing from their previous position of simply funding campus police, Unsafe U is now pushing the notion of no police presence on campus. With no traditional replacements in mind, Unsafe U believed that most campus crime could be handled through alternative methods such as counseling and legal aid.
The modeling for their proposal came from Minneapolis’ attempt to disband its police department following the murder of George Floyd. However, the Minneapolis plan never came close to being implemented, illustrating the problem with this modeling. The violent crime rate hit a record high in Minneapolis in 2020, delaying city council efforts.
This rise in violence has brought to light a frequently asked question: How is a mental health professional supposed to deal with an armed and dangerous person on their own? While they can handle some situations better than the police, as we saw in New York City, it is irresponsible to place the only burden on them.
While U may not have the same violent crime issues as an entire city, it certainly always happens. A police presence meets the need to fight violent crime, as it will not always be realistic to denigrate a criminal. For this reason, it is only reasonable to have at least a police presence on campus, even if some students cannot stand it.
Campus police still have to leave
However, just because a police presence will help control crime doesn’t mean campus police should exist. In recent years, students have rightly mistrusted the campus police. From the terrible mismanagement of Lauren McCluskey’s murder to allegations of misconduct attributed to the now-resigning Police Chief Rodney Chatman, student opinion of campus policing has declined dramatically.
The campus police record isn’t great either. The most recent data available is from 2019, during which the department oversaw the increase in rape, dating violence and stalking. To their credit, decreases have taken place in cases of domestic violence and touching. While the university has since taken steps to curb the increases, the campus police obviously have no overwhelming effect in deterring criminals. When a student body lacks confidence in a department that does a poor job at best, trying to revive it seems pointless.
The lack of organization and stability marks the campus police force as unfit to serve U. The students don’t know what to expect. Police chiefs change often, so protocols don’t seem strong and entire systems are reworked.
The case of the SLCPD
While not perfect, the SLCPD brings a sense of stability to their policing. Usually, one knows what to expect when dealing with SLCPD. The SLC government closely examines the policies and practices of the ministry, often requiring them to follow the procedure carefully.
This stability is partly due to their long history. Founded in 1851, the department has had over a century to create better public safety practices. The SLCPD is also accredited by the Law Enforcement Bodies Accreditation Commission (CALEA), the self-proclaimed “gold standard in public safety,” which the University of the Utah can’t tell yet. The SLCPD has access to more resources, more officers, and more experience than most campus police, and would likely do well with expanded jurisdiction.
University students could still express their opinion through vote and speech. If SLCPD does something wrong, say something and vote. Due to the unclear relationship between the Salt Lake City municipal government, the U, and the campus police, the campus police department is much more difficult to hold accountable, which has become one of the many flaws. of its existence. While a perfect police presence may never happen, given both options, the SLCPD is the better bet.
Implementation of SLCPD in the U
As simple as removing the police from the campus may seem, there are many things to consider in restructuring the jurisdiction.
Currently, SLCPD probably couldn’t handle such a drastic addition to their card, and the U would face a major paperwork headache. Since the problems seem to be more at the institutional level, we could instead keep the officer base and train them in SLCPD procedures. Through the transfer of power, former campus officers would have to adhere to stricter procedures and be more accountable to voters and a government that holds much more power than the United States.
By now, students would likely feel unsafe with or without campus police. With its turbulent history, especially over the past decade, any trust gained from students has faded. While a lack of a police presence certainly won’t help increase campus crime, a change needs to be made. By getting rid of the unstable campus police and replacing them with an established department in the SLCPD, students may find it much easier to feel safe on campus.