The Holistic Model for Campus Security Showcases Innovations in Policing for the University of Iowa. It is important that the university take the time to achieve the permanent changes it has promised.
The University of Iowa’s Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee is seeking feedback on its prototypes for the future of campus policing by March 12th.
The committee was formed in June after protests against racial injustices earlier this summer, particularly in light of the violent treatment of protesters by the University of Iowa Police Department, including law enforcement agencies.
The university may be one of the few institutions in Iowa capable of redefining and restructuring police and security. Others may be restricted by a proposed bill in Iowa that, if passed, will withhold state funds from any city or county that reduces the budget for local law enforcement.
A change in university policy doesn’t just affect the students, faculties, and user interface staff. This would affect the entire Iowa City community and could serve as a model for other colleges and cities.
From the plans presented, the editorial staff of Daily Iowan supports the holistic approach to security on campus. This prototype was the most popular with students and was recommended by the Iowa Freedom Riders local action group.
The holistic model suggests creating a resource center on campus that directs people in need to the right agency. Dispatchers in the central area could also send emergency services in ongoing situations, but would shift the focus away from the UI police and towards alternative help and protection.
The holistic approach would also increase funding for programs that support campus community members belonging to historically marginalized groups. The prototype focuses on initiatives that provide resources for housing, food security and mental health.
The holistic model represents the greatest departure from the status quo and really offers new ways of working on the user interface.
If you sincerely stand up for the ideas behind the holistic approach, you can avoid problems in our campus community before they occur. This would make students feel more valued by the university, reduce the ongoing damage done by the police, while keeping our community safe.
Why the other plans aren’t enough
The other plans put forward by the Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee are new iterations of the same patchwork fixes that we’ve put into effect over and over again across the country.
The commitment to new training and the recruitment of more diverse employees under the Refocusing Accountability Model does nothing to change the deep-seated and harmful roots of the American police force. It does nothing to address the systemic problems of racism and inequality at work in our community. It does not provide necessary support for marginalized groups who have been affected by this inequality for so long. Black students make up 3.1 percent of UI enrollments. According to data released in the fall, 38 percent of the documented incidents of violence by UI police were blacks – most of which did not involve students.
The establishment of a community oversight committee is not a compelling motivation for the UIPD or the university as a whole to change. With no access to real authority, which the university is unlikely to grant, the committee limits itself to proposing guidelines and reviewing the use of violent complaints.
The plans to realign accountability and community oversight leave room for change in the university, while the current system remains relatively untouched. We shouldn’t let the university go through the welfare requests to calm public opinion just to postpone significant changes indefinitely.
The university should take its early promises of “dismantling” seriously[ing] current structures to build a better future ”by taking up the vision of the holistic approach to campus security and community care.
Changes in university management are cause for concern
The committee intends to present its recommendations to the President of the UI, Bruce Harreld, in the spring and to create a new structure by July 1, 2021 to “support the collective vision of the campus”. While these goals show a commitment to timely reform, it is unclear whether the committee and the UI community have had enough time to fully review and analyze the proposals.
The prototypes, which are submitted for public comment, set out the broad outline of each plan, but leave many of the details blurred with no knowledge of when they might be resolved. The committee has also been scrutinized for its delay in soliciting public comments on the plans and has since extended its response deadline to Friday.
However, the spring schedule announced by the university does not leave the committee much time to formulate its final recommendations.
Part of the rush in this process is the committee’s goal of getting Harreld to see its recommendations before he leaves university. If the Presidential Search Committee adheres to the proposed schedule, a new president will be selected by the end of April.
Although Harreld, who announced his resignation in October, appointed members of the committee, it seems strange that he will decide the future of campus security when his time at UI ends. What if a new president has different views on the direction of campus security?
Harreld’s impending departure diminishes his stake in the outcome of this process. Regardless of his intentions with the Reimagining Campus Safety Committee, Harreld will not be in Iowa long enough to see the eventual changes to campus safety.
Better for the committee to take the time and not rush to present options to Harreld, especially when the new president may have a different vision for the university.
The Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee only shows the beginning of the university’s commitment to challenging our current police structure. The university should not accelerate this crucial phase, but rather take the time it needs to bring about a meaningful and lasting change through the holistic model on campus.
Editorials reflect the majority opinion of the DI Editorial Board and not the opinion of the editor, Student Publications Inc. or the University of Iowa.
Editorial staff are Sarah Watson, Alexandra Skores, Hannah Pinski, Evan Mantler and Cesar Perez
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