March 1, 2021

Support for PSAC recommendations

In the wake of last Spring’s unprecedented racial justice protests, we announced several initial steps to further align the UCI Police Department with our commitment to inclusive excellence and to confronting anti-Black racism. These steps built on the recommendations of the 2019 Presidential Taskforce Report on Universitywide Policing and on the development of our own UCI Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), which was established in the wake of a 2017 proposal to the UCI Senate for improving UCIPD-Community relations. In August 2020 PSAC announced to the Anteater Community that it would oversee an independent evaluation of the police department by a third-party expert, which I fully supported.

This past week PSAC completed its Recommendations for the Transformation of Public Safety in the UCI Community, which PSAC referenced earlier today in its message to the campus. I want to thank the members of PSAC for their commitment to this effort and for their continued leadership on these matters since their establishment; I urge every member of our community to review their findings and recommendations. There are four central recommendations, each of which includes a number of short-term action items and long-term goals. The four central recommendations are:

  • Develop and adopt a mission and set of core values underlying public safety as desired and envisioned by the UCI community.
  • Improve data collection and management to enhance the assessment and evaluation of the efficacy and practices of the Police Department, and to determine what type of public safety services are needed.
  • Construct a more responsive complaint investigative process and feedback mechanism that promotes campus safety expectations and community standards.
  • Align performance standards with campus safety standards and values as determined by the UCI community.

I write now to publicly endorse PSAC’s recommendations and to build upon them. As I stated in last summer’s message to campus, this is the time for foundational, sustainable change, not reforms around the margins. I will direct all the appropriate administrative offices to begin work immediately on all short-term recommendations with a goal of making rapid progress across the board, and also to immediately begin the processes that will ensure a successful and timely completion of PSAC’s long-term goals.

In many respects the most important recommendation is to engage the broader UCI community with the goal of envisioning, developing, and adopting an overarching mission and set of core values underlying campus safety. I agree with PSAC that this will require participation from all stakeholders on campus, a campus-wide survey on policing, and direct participation of students and broader campus community in the planning process. I also agree that this process should be grounded in the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and should include representatives of PSAC, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, the UCI Police Department, relevant senior administrators, and multiple stakeholders including both the undergraduate and graduate student communities, the UCI Medical Center, and the University Hills community.

Toward that end I have appointed Doug Haynes, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, to oversee this important effort. Our efforts will also be informed by a set of systemwide symposia on the topic of UC Campus Safety.

My additional guidance – which I believe is in the spirit of PSAC’s recommendation – is that the process be anchored in a more holistic conception of campus safety and community well-being, rather than in a narrower focus on issues relating to “policing” the campus. There are many elements that go into a holistic system for ensuring the safety and well-being of members of the campus community, and this process should start with this broader perspective. It should also begin with an acknowledgement that the idea of “policing” a community has historic antecedents that many members of our community do not associate with safety and security. The end result of our process cannot resemble these more oppressive examples. Both our country and our campus must do much better.

Given the range and diversity of views on this topic it may be unrealistic to hope that the end result of this effort will reflect everyone’s views. But the process must hear and take seriously all the diverse views within our community. I am heartened to hear from PSAC, in their “important note on the UCI Medical Center” toward the end of their report, that in their judgment our Medical Center “has implemented a structure organized around police officers, public safety officers, and ambassadors” that “found strong support across a range of stakeholders.” PSAC recommended that steps be taken to better understand how the UCI Medical Center successfully re-imagined and re-constructed public safety, and I will ensure that this recommendation be an important part of our process.

As we move forward, I will ensure that you will have a full opportunity to participate in this process and I will commit to regular updates on our progress, with the next update sometime before the end of this academic year.

Once again, my sincerest thanks to all the members of PSAC for their efforts to date and to all members of our community who will help us create an exemplary new model for ensuring a vision of safety campus where every member can thrive.

Fiat Lux.

Chancellor Howard Gillman