Many of the interactions between police and community that occurred during the George Floyd protests against police brutality have been laid bare in a report released by Chicago's Office of Inspector General on February 18. (See stories in 2/25 and 3/4 editions of the Herald.) The report was a brutal revelation of the utter breakdown of policing during the protests, especially given that the City of Chicago has vast experience with mass protests. Despite initially trying to keep this report private, CPD eventually authorized the City's Office of Inspector General to release the report.
Tucked away in that report is how other law enforcement agencies coordinated with the Chicago Police Department in handling the protests. Those agencies were the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA — National Guard), the Illinois State police, the Cook County Sheriff's Office, and The University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD). The first three agencies, which are publicly funded and subject to public information requests, provided information to OIG. However, UCPD, a private police force, declined to go into detail regarding its role in assisting CPD, or its own policing methods during this time. UCPD asserted its privilege as a private police force not subject to requests for information requests on how it polices the public. Also of great interest is that UCPD stated that its use of force data may not be included in records or reports that public law enforcement routinely report.
We, the Safer Campus and Community Coalition, don't think private universities with police forces with full police powers should patrol public areas far outside its campus borders without the clear oversight that we expect from public law enforcement agencies. As it stands, the State of Illinois granted full police powers to private campus police without including accountability and transparency requirements when the Private College Campus Police Act was passed. After over 70 years without any substantive changes, it is time to amend the current law, and we advocate passage of SB2118, filed by Senator Robert Peters, which will make the current law more current. SB2118 will, among other things:
- Codify into local ordinance UCPD's patrol boundaries, which is important when defining their patrol areas in reporting patrolling and pedestrian stop data.
- Put in place a civilian complaint structure with dedicated personnel.
- Require that their off-campus and extended patrol boundaries on public streets be subject to the state's Freedom of Information Act and request for information regarding these patrols and any resultant action from them.
- Require training of police to adhere to state, municipal and community standards of policing, not just university standards for policing for off-campus patrolling.
- Sets standards for community meetings that private universities and colleges have with the communities that they patrol, subject to the Open Meetings Act, and require that the meetings take place in neutral areas outside of their campuses.
Amending the Private College Campus Police Act makes the changes applicable to all private campus police forces across the state. What is proposed will not diminish any private university’s ability to keep its community and constituents safe. The proposed changes do not take away law enforcement power, but ensures transparency and accountability to the communities served. After 71 years, it is time for private campus police to move out of the 1950s and catch up to 2021.
Curtrice White Scott
Grace Chan McKibben
For Safer Campus Community Coalition