Why was the Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee (RCSAC) created?

  • Former UI President Bruce Harreld established the Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee (RCSAC) in July 2020 to develop a new future of public safety for the campus.
  • The committee is led by Vice President for Student Life Sarah Hansen, and it will provide updates on its work to campus.
  • Charge: The Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee is responsible for identifying strategies, tactics, and timelines for creating a campus community that supports the safety of all individuals, with particular attention to people who have traditionally experienced disproportionate harm from systems such as law enforcement.

The committee is considering key questions including:

  • What are the essential elements of a safe and inclusive campus?
  • What policies, practices, and organizational structures are needed in order to provide the essential elements of a safe and inclusive campus?
  • Who should perform the various duties associated with a safe and inclusive campus?
  • The goal is to provide recommendations to President Wilson in summer 2021. This may involve new and different roles, scope, focus, budgets, and may include a broad range of professions spanning:
    • Social workers
    • Mental health experts
    • Case managers
    • Public safety officers

Who is on the RCSAC?

  • The group includes campus community members with a wide range of viewpoints, roles, and professions, including the Threat Assessment team; the University of Iowa Police Department (UIPD); student activists; and faculty members with research expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion, policing of communities of color, deliberative dialogues, and organizational change. View the list of committee members here.
  • Activities have included learning about the context of policing nationally and locally and interviewing users to gain empathy for how different populations define safety and experience law enforcement.
  • Framing question: How might we create an anti-racist system that provides compassionate, caring response to the full range of safety needs for all members of the UI community?

What does the University of Iowa Police Department respond to that is different from the Iowa City Police Department? Is there overlap between them?

  • UI Police are the primary first responders for any incidents that occur on the UI campus. This means the Iowa City Police Department does not respond to incidents that occur on University of Iowa property unless requested by UI Police. In addition to responding to criminal activity, UI police assist with building unlocks, medical emergencies, fire incidents, non-criminal damage to campus buildings, vehicle unlocks, and other similar services.
  • Similar to ICPD’s support role on campus, UI Police respond to incidents in the Iowa City community near campus when requested by ICPD. This could be due to student involvement or to provide mutual aid when they don’t have officers available to respond.The University of Iowa and the UI Department of Public Safety will maintain a relationship that is collaborative and complementary regardless of the recommended model.

What is the current structure of Campus Safety?

  • It is important to note that the UI Department of Public Safety includes not just a police division, but also a security division, emergency management, key and access services, records, and a communications division.
  • According to Iowa Board of Regents (BOR) current policy, the University of Iowa is required to have campus police. The Iowa Code grants the Iowa Board of Regents oversight for the UI, ISU, UNI, the Iowa School for the Deaf, and the Iowa Blind and Sightsaving School.

Iowa Code 262.9 and 262.13 grant the BOR authority to employ peace officers on campus.

According to the Iowa Board of Regents Policy 4.13D:

  1. Each university shall maintain appropriately trained public safety personnel on campus that includes police officers as well as security personnel.

And according to Iowa Board of Regents Policy 4.13K:

The size and scope of each Regent university dictate the need for a focused and dedicated public safety entity to work cooperatively with institutional administrators, campus constituencies, and other entities to develop and implement overall safety and security protocols.

Each university is to establish a police department and a security unit in promoting safe and secure campus environments. Designated personnel, as defined below, must be appropriately trained and properly equipped to perform their assigned responsibilities.

Does the UI have to cooperate with local law enforcement such as the Iowa City Police Department?

According to the Board of Regents Policy 4.13 J: Each institution shall establish written mutual aid agreements with their respective local law enforcement agencies to ensure that cooperative working relationships are developed and maintained for the mutual benefit of all concerned parties in accordance with institutional policies. Any established mutual aid agreements shall be in accordance with Chapter 28E (PDF) of the Code of Iowa.

Can we have UI police officers without weapons?

The Iowa Board of Regents policy 4.13 K currently states: The Board directs that state-certified police officers employed at the three Regent universities carry firearms in the regular performance of their duties in accordance with the following criteria:

  1. Police officers shall continue to meet or exceed state standards as outlined in the Iowa Administrative Code, Section 501-2.1 (80B) (PDF), 501-2.2 (80B) (PDF) with regard to education, pre-employment medical and psychological examinations, written cognitive testing, thorough background investigations, and physical fitness assessments.
  2. All police officers shall earn certification through the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA).
  3. Following ILEA certification, all police officers shall successfully complete an intensive field-training program prior to working in an independent capacity.
  4. Police officers shall receive training in, and qualify with, all approved firearms before being allowed to carry such weapons. Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Code 501-8.1(80B) (PDF), law enforcement officers must qualify with all duty handguns annually on a course approved by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.
  5. University police officers shall be required to exceed state firearms training standards in terms of frequency and scope. Such officers shall qualify at least semi-annually to demonstrate proficiency, safe handling techniques, and weapon retention. In addition, those officers shall demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of use of force issues, to include: applicable state statutes and constitutional constraints; departmental policies; and critical decision-making regarding appropriate lethal and less-lethal options.
  6. In accordance with nationally recognized best practices endorsed by the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, police officers shall train in active shooter response. Training scenarios should be conducted at least annually and include other law enforcement agencies, emergency medical responders, and key University staff. All police officers shall receive training approved by instructors with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) or other professionally recognized training organizations. Tactics and the selection of equipment and firearms shall be in accordance with ILEA, State of Iowa Department of Public Safety, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommendations and standards.

What are the prototypes?

The committee has outlined prototypes, or potential models, to share with the campus on different ways the University of Iowa can create an anti-racist system that provides compassionate, caring response to the full range of safety needs for all members of the UI community. View the prototypes in more detail.

Prototype: Refocusing, Accountability, and Retraining for Campus Police Services

This prototype calls for a reimagining of the focus and structure of police response and the University of Iowa. This prototype specifically focuses on the University of Iowa Police Department, a division within the UI Department of Public Safety.

Prototype: Holistic Approach to Campus Safety

This prototype envisions a more holistic approach to campus safety that proactively supports and invests in student’s health and well-being, centralizes support and resources for students, and utilizes alternative first responders, such as mental health professionals and trained mediators. This model of campus safety moves away from the traditional response of campus police officers and to a community and campus prevention and response system.

Prototype: Community Police Oversight

This prototype is to form an oversight committee to ensure anti-racist campus safety practices, and is designed to ensure that university police and other entities are fully accountable to our university community.

What is the process for engaging campus community stakeholders?

  • The University of Iowa has partnered with a local agency, Astig Planning, to support gathering feedback from the campus community on the campus safety prototypes. Astig Planning services are aimed at transforming communities and landscapes through engagement, empowerment, and advocacy. Astig has been directly involved with many minority communities and have specific expertise in areas of equity and community transformation.
  • The contract with Astig was not put out for a competitive bid because the budgeted amount is less than the required threshold.
    • Expenses for the Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee, including Astig Planning’s services, are paid from university general funds.
      • According to the UI Operations Manual, “Purchases less than or equal to $25,000 may be delegated to individual department purchasers. Purchases of goods and services between $25,001 and $50,000 per transaction, may be purchased through an informal competitive bid with an adequate number of vendors.”
  • Astig has assisted the committee in providing additional capacity for soliciting community feedback through focus groups and listening sessions.
  • Our approach has involved a committed group of UI community members
  • The committee engaged the campus community through town hall meetings and listening sessions to gather a range of perspectives, experiences, and viewpoints. Astig facilitated the open town halls and various listening sessions with groups on campus.

Why are you paying for this when the university is having budget issues?

Developing a new future of public safety for the campus is a priority.

  • The University of Iowa’s budget process empowers colleges and central service units to determine annual budgets based upon their projected revenue. Each area of campus continues to work to understand how COVID-19, cuts in state funding, and enrollment projections are affecting their particular situation.

Feedback and Town Hall Meetings

  • The committee engaged the campus community through town hall meetings and listening sessions to gather a range of perspectives, experiences, and viewpoints. Astig facilitated the open town halls and various listening sessions with groups on campus. Town hall meetings were held:
    • Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021
    • Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021
  • Members of the university community were also able to submit feedback by visiting the RCSAC website after Feb. 4.
  • Only members of the University of Iowa community were able to attend the town hall meetings. Large group portions of the town hall meetings were recorded, but breakout rooms were not recorded.
  • The campus community was also be able to provide feedback via a survey hosted on the RCSAC website and sent out to all students, faculty, and staff via mass email and social media.
  • Additional stakeholder feedback was gathered through focus groups and input sessions.

What are the next steps for the RCSAC and university in 2021?

  • The committee will review feedback provided by the campus community to outline recommendations on a campus safety structure.
  • The committee expects to make recommendations to President Wilson in summer 2021. The scope and complexity of changes recommended will determine the implementation timeline.

What additional actions is the university taking to this committee to address campus safety issues?

In addition to the work of the Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee, the university is:

  • Committing to President Barack Obama’s Police Use of Force Project
  • Maintaining the Department of Public Safety (DPS) as the primary public safety responders for campus
  • Prioritizing skills and a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice for all employees within the DPS.
  • Continuing the work of the Committee on University Safety and Security Charter (UI Operations Manual, Chapter 2.8), whose charge includes:
  • The charge to the Committee is to enhance the DPS contribution to the education, research, and leadership missions of the University of Iowa.
  • The Committee shall be governed by the terms of the General Charter.
  • In addition, the Committee shall:
    • Review the responsibilities of the Department of Public Safety and advise on how those responsibilities are successfully discharged;
    • Advise on educational programs regarding safety and security issues that affect faculty, staff, students, visitors, and the general public;
    • Advise on policies and procedures concerning university interests with respect to safety and security;
    • Advise on processes for minimizing the likelihood of emergencies, and enhancing response to emergencies;
    • Review agreements and collaborations with non-university law enforcement agencies and advise on if those various associations are being maintained.