As movements to defund or abolish the police gain steam around the country, a group of student-activists at the University of Chicago are making a renewed push to dismantle the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD).
#CareNotCops, which organized in response to the shooting of U. of C. student Charles Thomas by a UCPD officer two years ago, released a set of demands this past weekend. Mostly, they are a reiteration of goals the group had already been organizing in support of: greater transparency around the UCPD budget; disarming police officers; cutting UCPD funds and funneling them toward social service organizations; and ultimately disbanding the department by 2022.
“This week, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the resulting wave of protests and police violence, University administrators have made both verbal and written statements claiming ‘solidarity’ with protestors and a commitment to anti-racist action,” the group wrote, in reference to a letter from Provost Ka Yee Lee on May 30. “In light of these, we call with renewed vigor on the University to defund and disband UCPD, as well as to make reparations to those victimized by UCPD.”
Apart from a meeting in the wake of the Thomas shooting, a spokesperson for #CareNotCops told the Herald, administrators have stonewalled the group.
The spokesperson also said that analysis of UCPD field interview report data showed over 95% of people stopped by police were Black, an indication that police are engaging in racial profiling. (A 2016 article in the Chicago Reporter found that, though Black people make up 59% of the population in UCPD’s coverage area, they were 93% of stops.)
In a response to the Herald, a U. of C. spokesperson touted UCPD’s engagement with the community, as well as its demographic make-up.
“UCPD maintains a Community Oriented Policing & Problem Solving (COPPS) philosophy as our operating strategy for community engagement. This philosophy requires our agency to collaborate with all our community stakeholders in order to identify and solve issues of crime and disorder impacting the community,” the statement read in part.
“All UCPD officers are required to receive 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) in addition to regular professional training and development programs such as cultural competency and bias prevention. The diversity of our police department is reflective of the communities we serve. Of our 93 officers, 53.7% are African American, 32.5% are white, and 10.7% are Hispanic; of those 20.4% are female.”