UC Riverside Campus Safety Task Force Releases Police Reform Recommendations
After the task force’s findings were released, Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox announced an immediate hiring freeze on all UCPD officers.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The University of California (UC) Riverside’s Campus Safety Task Force has released its recommendations for improving safety and racial equality for all members of the campus community, particularly as it pertains to the UC Police Department (UCPD).
Back in Sept. 2020, Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox announced the formation of the task force amidst national calls for institutional police reform. The task force consists of students, staff, faculty and community members.
During the fall and winter semesters, the task force reviewed campus police operations, budgets, personnel and oversight and assessment, reports The Highlander. The group also examined current structures and offered recommendations for campus policing, racial injustice and social inequity.
On March 22, the task force released its 20-page report which outlines its recommendations. Overall, the task force determined campus safety must address the needs of UCR’s diverse student body and community, including those who feel less safe in the presence of UCPD and other law enforcement agencies. On the same day, Wilcox announced UCR’s immediate halt on any hiring for UCPD openings, including chief of police.
The report outlines nine recommendations based on three different themes, the first being the reimagining of campus safety by narrowing UCPD’s traditional scope and integrating the unit into a more comprehensive Campus Safety Division. The unit would encourage community engagement through town halls and office hours in order to regularly interact with campus groups to understand their needs on a deeper level.
Public accountability measures would also be implemented to ensure transparency. Additionally, the division would incorporate campus safety activities that address issues like mental health, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and drug and alcohol abuse. Public safety personnel would also be cross-trained with campus practitioners on these topics.
Related to UCR’s hiring freeze for UCPD officers, the force recommends conducting a comprehensive assessment of campus needs for public safety based on at least five years of data, including campus calls, complaints and arrests. The group also recommends funds for any open UCPD positions be reallocated toward hiring mental health specialists.
Under the second theme — campus safety training, personnel and oversight — the task force recommends improving recruitment, training and retention efforts to address implicit bias and related infractions or misconduct. To do so, the force recommends UCPD officers collaborate with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office to develop and understand training based on issues involving anti-Blackness, anti-BIPOC, and anti-LGBTQ societal contexts.
The final theme — collaboration with the city and county of Riverside and campus-based entities — would address issues of justice in the court system and community-based mental health interventions. These collaborations would also lead to a more proactive and collaborative approach to improving physical and mental well-being in order to tend to the broader community’s basic needs, particularly those who are food and housing insecure.
“Such efforts aim to mitigate the likelihood of engaging in ‘criminal’ activity before it occurs,” reads the report. “These actions will not only serve to enhance campus safety at the university, but also help to serve as a model for the larger community.”
In coordination with the Riverside County District Attorney’s office and UCR’s Legal Affairs Office, the task force also recommends implementing a restorative justice program to address misdemeanors on campus. This particular collaboration would include identifying and providing the financial and operational resources to offer options for diversion away from the court system, providing the community with information on how to find legal representation, and identifying a UCR campus safety liaison, campus safety personnel, student affairs case manager or social worker to address each case.