Forum on Public Safety Engagement and Next Steps
To: Members of the University Community
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost
Subject: Forum on Public Safety Engagement and Next Steps
Date: February 5, 2021
As I announced in a message last August, the University is committed to building on the significant changes that the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) has undergone over the past decade, guided in part by the recommendations of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and to continue striving to make our practices a model for higher education and the law enforcement community. I am writing today with an update on this effort.
Over the past six months, we have worked to examine our public safety function and ways in which community services provided by the University, including security and policing, can be strengthened and improved.
As part of this process, the leadership of the UCPD, the University’s Department of Safety and Security, the Office of Civic Engagement, and other University offices held meetings with members of our campus and neighboring communities to identify areas for action, including further steps to prevent bias in policing, and ways of accessing community resources in order to improve responses involving mental health. We have held more than 40 distinct meetings with a range of groups including students, faculty members, staff, alumni, and community representatives, who shared both positive and critical perspectives about our public safety functions.
We will discuss key themes from these meetings during a public safety forum that is scheduled for February 16 from 4:45 pm – 6:00 pm. The forum will provide an overview of UCPD, including recent UCPD reforms and changes, summarize key points and lessons learned from the listening sessions, detail current systems for responding to student crises (including mental health resources), and share upcoming initiatives and next steps based on the feedback that we have received. In the coming days, members of the University community and our neighbors will receive an invitation to join this online forum with information on how to register and submit questions in advance.
I want to thank all of those who have participated in the conversations so far, which have been vital in building a greater understanding of current strengths and areas for improvement. We look forward to continuing to work with people across our campus and the South Side to support and enhance the safety and well-being of our communities.