President's Campus Safety Initiative
We all want a safe campus environment—safe in every sense of the word. Recent months and events have inspired us to reflect more about what it means to feel safe, respected, and included across our University family and beyond.
To advance part of our unfinished work, we need to examine our public safety and policing. To advance that mission, the University retained CL Alexander Consulting, led by Dr. Cedric Alexander, an expert in law enforcement with over 40 years in public safety, to help facilitate conversations with our Twin Cities campus community, to help us determine where we are strong and where we fall short, and to provide any recommendations that can help bridge any divide between the University of Minnesota Police Department’s (UMPD) values and practices and our campus community’s values and experiences.
Beginning in September 2020, Dr. Alexander and his team facilitated conversations with more than 200 individuals, including students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and members of the U of M’s public safety team, representing more than 30 organizations across campus. In addition, Dr. Alexander received online and written submissions, reviewed traditional and social media, and examined UMPD practices and training.
Dr Alexander's Report and Next Steps
The report cites “an undeniable tension” between those who feel more policing is the solution and those who feel more policing is the problem. Acknowledging these distinct viewpoints, as well as many that land somewhere in between, the full report states, “public safety and community safety go hand in hand. Community engagement that is inclusive and truly offers a voice for all segments of the UMN campus community on an ongoing basis in defining how they want to be policed is the foundation for improved alignment between UMPD and the constituencies they serve. Strengthening the mechanisms that build trust and communication, problem-solving, and shared ownership are essential.”
The dozens of proposed recommendations fall into eight broad categories for response:
- Strengthen Trust and Legitimacy
- Embracing Procedural Justice
- Differentiate and Realign Policing Responsibilities
- Engage UMN Campus Community in UMPD Training
- Measure Outcomes and Impacts That Matter to All
- Use of Equipment and Technology
- Community Engagement in Accountability and Transparency
- Role of UMN As a Leader For Addressing Police and Societal Reforms
Some of the recommendations that we seek to implement immediately include:
- Equipping UMPD officers with body cameras
- Continuing regular meetings with the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul to keep communication open and to coordinate, as needed, on public safety issues
- Purchasing and distributing the Rave Guardian™ campus safety app to all students, faculty and staff
- Transitioning Department of Public Safety/UMPD oversight to Senior Vice President Myron Frans’ portfolio
The MSafe Implementation Committee was a key recommendation from Dr. Cedric Alexander. In his January 2021 report, he advised that the University of Minnesota:
"Form or adapt an existing platform that reports directly to the President to be responsible for implementation of the recommendations in this report and to serve as a way to reimagine and co-create how the UMN community wants to be policed, what it should be and what it is not, and to get the input from all sectors and affected communities, especially the perspectives of all groups that experience disparate policing outcomes.”
President Gabel created the MSafe Implementation Committee to fulfill this charge. As written in her invitation to Committee members, the Team was diverse and representative of our unique campus community, included subject matter expertise, incorporated University governance, and leveraged the perspectives of key stakeholders and community partners. The MSafe Implementation Committee is advisory to the President, tasked to review Dr. Alexander’s report and provide recommendations to President Gabel, Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans, University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) Chief Matt Clark, and the University Senate’s newly formed Campus Safety Committee.
As directed, the MSafe Implementation Team completed this work by the end of December 2021 and presented the report to the Board of Regents in February 2022. The report submitted is the product of 1,305 hours of thoughtful work devoted by the MSafe Committee members and co-chairs to fulfilling this charge.