LSA sophomore Mahnoor Imran will serve as the newest member of the University of Michigan Police Department Oversight Committee for the 2021-2022 academic year after winning the annual election on March 24 and 25.
Imran received 121 votes. Engineering junior Josh Chapnick and LSA junior Justin Yuan, who both also ran for the position, received 54 and 14 votes, respectively.
In a statement to the Michigan Daily, Yuan wrote that he didn’t announce an actual campaign or even really mean to run. As a member of the Young Democrats Socialists of America along with Imran, he voted with membership to unanimously endorse Imran for her write-in campaign.
“I supported and continue to support Mahnoor for the UMPD oversight commission,” Yuan said. “She’s compassionate, competent and incredibly smart.”
The function of the UMPD Oversight Committee is to help people with their grievances against U-M police officers or the U-M police department. The committee has a total of six members — two students, two faculty members and two staff members — who are nominated and elected by their peers. Students serve one-year terms, while faculty and staff serve two-year terms.
Imran’s platform focused around fostering ties with the Advancing Public Safety Task Force created by University administration after the Graduate Employees Organization went on strike in Oct. 2020, with defunding the University Department of Safety and Security among their demands. Though this was not agreed upon in the University and GEO’s resolution, a variety of anti-racism initiatives — including the task force — were approved.
Imran hopes to advance on the task force’s work during her term.
“I wanted to push for transparency and accountability in the ways that are conducive to the kind of justice that I believe in,” Imran said. “My biggest concern is upholding public safety and public health in a way that centers community concerns.”
Imran said she wants the community to recognize that having organizations such as the UMPD Oversight Committee is important because of the harm policing can cause.
“We need people who can advocate for public safety in a more nuanced way that acknowledges that harm,” Imran said. “It’s definitely a very interesting space to enter, but I want to listen to everyone’s thoughts and what they have to say.”
Sarah Peitzmeier, chair of the UMPD oversight committee, said having student representatives on the committee is a legal requirement and has also been very beneficial.
“I certainly agree that it’s really important to have feedback and input from all different constituencies on campus,” Peitzmeier said. “Student perspectives need to be represented.”
Imran agreed with Peitzmeier, saying students’ voices need to be amplified throughout campus, especially when she sees the change they are pushing for as a necessity.
According to Peitzmeier, one of the committee’s main goals for this year is to expand the committee powers to increase transparency and responsibility within UMPD. Members also plan to work to adjust the committee’s bylaws allowing the committee to publish public reports on the committee’s work, for example, which they are not currently able to do because of vague wording in the bylaws.
“We’re moving through the stages of negotiation processes and have had a very positive experience so far,” Peitzmeier said. “It seems like the PD is also invested in increasing community trust.”
U-M Chief of Police Robert Neumann, who works directly with the oversight committee, wrote in an email to The Michigan Daily he supported expanding the committee’s power while maintaining operational efficiency.
“I support any measure that enhances transparency and accountability while ensuring that legal and structural boundaries are not compromised,” Neumann wrote. “A process is underway to evaluate the Committee’s request, and I am supportive of steps that build confidence in our accountability.”
In the face of increased public attention on policing practices, Neumann identified strengthening community ties and the promotion of community dialogue as two areas in which he hopes the department can improve. He also emphasized the increased importance of public accountability for police officers.
“Accountability and the perception of accountability are essential components of sustaining the community partnerships necessary for serving the needs of our community,” Neumann wrote. “I see increased public attention to policing as an opportunity to learn and grow in the ongoing work to earn trust.”
Imran said she hopes to use her platform to ensure people in a position of privilege will take on this obligation to do more for their community and that the support from her community was a major factor in her decision to run.
“At the heart of it all was community,” Imran said. “I would not have been able to achieve this victory without the support of my friends and community members.”
This article has been updated to better represent Imran’s views and intentions for her work on the UMPD oversight committee.
Daily Staff Reporter Ashna Mehra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily News Contributor Michael Deeter can be reached at email@example.com.