The University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security announced several updates to its practices to improve transparency and increase police oversight on Tuesday. These developments come as part of a campaign to improve campus policing, which was launched in January 2021 by the Office of the Provost with the creation of a task force to assess public safety on campus.
The changes are based on a May 6 report by the Advancing Public Safety at the University of Michigan Task Force and a June 10 response by University President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan Collins.
DPSS is hiring a project manager to oversee the advancement of its reforms. The Police Department Oversight Committee procedures document was also updated to give the committee more formalized authority, allowing them to carry out special reviews on items not able to be addressed in a policy review, as well as publish public reports on grievances, policy reviews or special reviews. Training for PDOC members is still being finalized, according to a press release.
Additionally, DPSS collaborated with the Ann Arbor Police Department to update the Cooperative Policing Agreement, the document that describes the relationship between the two organizations, to account for off-campus student neighborhood harm reduction patrols.
In an attempt to increase transparency, the DPSS website was updated to include a hiring page, a training page and an organizational chart that describes the structure of DPSS. A data and statistics page was also established, and DPSS is working with experts to analyze and present the data, the press release states.
DPSS obtained a verbal agreement with the consulting group 21CP Solutions “to assist with data transparency, hiring and recruiting, and community engagement.” The group worked on former President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2015.
To try to build up trust in the community, DPSS committed to updating its community engagement strategy and expanding its community outreach initiatives. It announced a plan to analyze the Winter 2021 Healthy Minds Survey for ways to improve its policing.
DPSS Executive Director Eddie L. Washington, Jr. said in a press release DPSS is committed to building transparency, trust and community engagement.
“DPSS is a service-oriented organization, dedicated to providing a safe and secure environment for all U-M students, faculty, and staff, with an emphasis on community outreach, prevention, and education,” Washington, Jr. said. “We value our relationships with the community and take safety-related feedback very seriously.”
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