Campus Reform | Fewer officers and more experts? 'Re-imagining' of campus safety is underway at Stanford.

Fewer officers and more experts? 'Re-imagining' of campus safety is underway at Stanford.

Stanford University’s 'Community Board on Public Safety' unveiled a set of recommendations for campus police reform, which would see fewer armed officers responding to calls.

The Board recommended that 'anti-bias and de-escalation education' be given to all security services and members of the Stanford community.

Stanford University’s “Community Board on Public Safety” released its first set of campus safety reform recommendations, which if enacted would limit the use of armed personnel to emergency situations.

The board recently suggested that the university create "two units" of campus police officers, sworn police officers, and non-sworn police officers.

Sworn police officers, as recommended by the report, would only respond be activated when a "emergency response unit" is needed, and would handle "threats of violence, significant property damage on campus, calls for service for a felony (or other comparable situations)."

The sworn officers would also respond to situations where "only a sworn officer is legally required to handle a situation."

For "all other situations," the board states that an "enhanced cadre" of non-sworn officers would act as the first responders, but will have sworn officers ready for "back-up" if needed.

The body was officially sanctioned by Stanford’s Office of the President and announced following the death of George Floyd. Its mission concerns “identifying and making recommendations to improve public safety at Stanford, and the subjective sense of safety among students, staff, and faculty.”

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According to its first official report on July 12, the Board has “informally characterized its work as ‘re-imagining’ public safety.” Among its proposed changes was the decrease in reliance upon armed officers, particularly in student-centered areas of the community. In return, the board suggested adopting a “deployment policing model” for armed police — for example, through an emergency response unit.

On the weekends and other high-traffic events, the board states that "hybrid deployments" of sworn and non-sworn officers would be acceptable as well.

In addition to the deployment of mental health professionals in certain circumstances, the board recommended that “anti-bias and de-escalation education” be provided for all security services and members of the Stanford community.

“The Board acknowledges that SUDPS [Stanford University Department of Public Safety]  currently undergoes anti-bias and de-escalation training, and would recommend a review of that training in light of the broader holistic approach to education addressed in this recommendation,” the report stated. “The Board acknowledges that training and education of this sort has its shortcomings; however, on balance it is believed to be a critical piece of a holistic approach to effective change.”

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As quoted by Stanford Today, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said that the university will “be working next to review the recommendations and begin designing implementation steps in response.” Among other areas for future study, according to the outlet, are the higher numbers of interactions between police and racial minorities. 

Campus Reform reached out to Stanford University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

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