The Department of Public Safety is forming a student advisory board, giving UR students a voice in the University’s law enforcement body.
Director of Public Safety Mark Fischer anticipates 20 to 25 students sitting on the board. He plans to give members the opportunity to meet with new officer recruits and to observe and participate in their training. Members will also be able to meet with a variety of officers, including Public Safety’s training manager.
Fischer said that Public Safety is different than other law enforcement agencies, in officers’ de-escalation methods and relationship with the community.
“Well now I want to prove it,” Fischer said. “With at least this student advisory group, so they can see how concerned with this University [officers] are and the students can see it directly firsthand.”
“If we learned anything last year, it’s the more we’re in the community and doing the things that are normal with the community, the better it is for us,” said Public Safety Commander Dana Perrin.
The board’s formation was announced at a Sept. 16 Students’ Association Senate meeting by senior and SA President Jamal Holtz.
“I think it’s needed,” Holtz told the Campus Times. “I’m excited that we can always figure out ways to get students involved with the process and sharing their feedback and where students can have a direct coordination with Public Safety.”
Holtz said that SA is working with Public Safety to find students to sit on the board and to help promote it.
The formation of the board was suggested months ago in discussions of the possibility of bringing armed officers to campus.
Fischer stressed that the question of armed officers on campus— resolved for now by last semester’s decision — is off limits.
“The arming question is off the table,” Fischer said. “This is really about hearing about from our students how we’re doing and what we can do better and building those relationships.”
Fischer said that the board aims to include students from River Campus, graduate students, and students studying at the Eastman School of Music. (Eastman SA President and senior Gwen Paker did not respond to a request for comment.)
Holly Crawford, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance who oversees Public Safety operations, said in an email that she’s excited for students “to build relationships and trust with our officers and [Public Safety] leadership, to learn how the department operates and trains, and to have real input into how our department provides service to our University community.”
For the time being, however, Public Safety will be working on filling seats on the board, which they hope will contain a diverse set of viewpoints. And in order to do so, it in part comes back to SA to recommend students for the role.
“I think it’s a good stepping stone for students to be involved and know stuff that’s going on in the department,” Holtz said. “It puts a voice in the conversation and a seat at the table.”
Fischer estimates the board will start meeting in late October or early November.