Race, Police & Justice: Voices from the Colgate Community

One of Campus Safety’s primary priorities has always been to foster and maintain good relations with members of the Colgate community. During the sit-in in 2014, we heard that we needed to do better, and we have since been working to understand how we can do better, to make improvements, and to communicate more clearly about who we are, and what we are tasked with.

My reflection on the Brown Bag event is that the students who spoke were very passionate and concerned about these issues both locally and nationally, and they are concerns that I share. As I reflect on the conversation that day, I would like to offer up the following thoughts.

One area we have needed to address was to make more clear the difference between Campus Safety and law enforcement agencies.

Rather than sworn police officers responsible for upholding state and federal laws, the Campus Safety officer’s role is as a university resource to ensure the security of our community in a safe and respectful environment for all. To that point, one visible change you might notice is that our officers no longer wear badges on their uniforms. Also, we have been working to have more community contacts, where interactions can be positive and helpful before there is a problem.  We implemented pre-social event checks so that we can point out areas for students to correct before a problem occurs.

We also know that as our student population becomes increasingly diverse, our officers need additional training and skills to ensure that we are communicating effectively and respectfully as we do our job. Also, as a means of diversifying our Campus Safety staff, we have hired a diverse group of student staff to assist with community outreach and have broadened our search process to achieve a more diverse candidate pool for professional staff positions. These are just a few examples of what we’ve been working on.

As director, I am fundamentally committed to improving Campus Safety’s programs and services to better serve the community. Our department needs your help and support. We have been working to enlist feedback from members of the community and have created a strategy for continued improvement that we have posted online.

I am always willing to accept feedback on how our efforts are working, and welcome suggestions for any other new initiatives that should be considered. Thank you.