Closer Look

Closer Look: Students Call for Campus Safety to Re-Examine Policies, Connection With CPD

Alanna Demetrius | The PhoenixCampus Safety views itself as “supplemental” to CPD, according to Campus Safety Director Tom Murray, meaning CPD operates as the main police force around Loyola’s campuses while Campus Safety focuses on Loyola-specific incidents.

In recent months, student protestors have put the connection between Loyola and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) under scrutiny.

Our Streets LUC — a protest group led by Loyola students  — has been demanding Loyola cut ties with CPD and better support Black students, among other things.

These demands have been echoed by several student organizations, including the Black Cultural Center (BCC). The BCC published recommendations — which Our Streets LUC supports — for Loyola to improve the lives of Black students, including cutting ties with CPD and re-examining Campus Safety’s policies. 

The BCC is a student organization on campus created to embrace the many cultures created by the African Diaspora.

Despite protests near campus and some arrests, Loyola said it’ll continue its relationship with CPD, according to an Aug. 28 statement from Campus Safety — the university’s sworn police force.

“Based on state statutes and other important considerations, it is not practical for our University to sever its professional working relationship with local law enforcement authorities,” the statement said.

Campus Safety views itself as “supplemental” to CPD, according to Campus Safety Director Tom Murray, meaning CPD operates as the main police force around Loyola’s campuses while Campus Safety focuses on Loyola-specific incidents. Both departments assist each other if requested, Murray said. 

In an email to The Phoenix, CPD spokesperson Maggie Huynh said Campus Safety and CPD are completely independent of each other, but CPD coordinates with other law enforcement agencies such as Campus Safety when necessary.

BCC co-presidents Connor Elmore and Elise Purnsley said they want Loyola to take a stand on social justice issues involving police, and their recommendation is to cut ties with CPD. 

“When we had this call to action we were asking for Loyola and for other institutions of higher learning to have a stance and to realize it’s part of their mission, ability to acknowledge the issues in our greater community … such as the death of Breonna Taylor and many many others,” Elmore, 20, a political science and English double major, said. 

Our Streets LUC — a student-run protest group — is calling for the university to cut ties with CPD and better support Black students, among other things. Zack Miller | The Phoenix

These calls for police accountability come after several high-profile killings of Black people by police, such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, that led to thousands of protests across the country — including protests organized by Our Streets LUC, which didn’t respond to requests for comment.  

Campus Safety’s controversial past

Campus Safety has been the subject of past racial profiling allegations at Loyola.

From 2016-18, Campus Safety officers stopped and frisked 80 pedestrians, an act where police temporarily detain someone while asking them questions and patting their clothes to search for weapons. Of the 80 stopped, 53 were Black, 18 were white, eight were Hispanic and one was Asian, the report showed.

In February 2018, Campus Safety took a Black student into custody for intervening in a search of two Black individuals who were allegedly scalping tickets outside a men’s basketball game. The student who was taken into custody said Campus Safety used “excessive force” against him and another student who tried to defend him, The Phoenix reported.

This incident sparked the #NotMyLoyola movement in which some students demanded accountability from the university for alleged racial profiling by Campus Safety officers. Loyola hired an external investigation firm to review the 2018 incident and it determined Campus Safety officers didn’t racially profile or use excessive force, The Phoenix reported

Campus Safety’s sworn police officers

Campus Safety’s sworn police officers have the same training and certifications as CPD officers, Murray said. These officers work with CPD to monitor both the Lake Shore Campus (LSC) and Water Tower Campus (WTC) and the surrounding blocks.

In 2019, Campus Safety officers made 41 arrests, according to Loyola spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach. 

Campus Safety’s jurisdiction stretches for a couple of blocks around both LSC and WTC, meaning the department can arrest or detain anyone in those areas, even if that person has no affiliation with Loyola, according to the Private College Campus Police Act.

Campus Safety’s patrol boundaries at the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses.

Sworn police forces are used by 68 percent of American universities both private and public, according to the most recently available data collected in a 2011-12 survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics — a data collection organization that focuses on data relating to crime. The study found 92 percent of public universities had police forces as opposed to 38 percent at private universities.

As a private institution, Loyola is permitted to have a sworn police force through Illinois’ Private College Campus Police Act. The act states any member of university police must complete the same training as officers in other sworn departments and university police will be granted powers that city police officers have.

While it’s required for private universities to have a security force, they don’t need to use sworn police officers. DePaul University’s Office of Public Safety is staffed by public safety officers rather than sworn police officers, according to its website

Loyola’s Board of Trustees provides oversight for the department, according to Murray. 

However, the board delegates that oversight to the Office of the President, Shymanski Zach said in an email to The Phoenix. Murray reports to Senior Vice President for Administrative Services Thomas Kelly and Kelly reports to Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney, according to Shymanski Zach.

Our Streets LUC said the board — which has the authority to staff Campus Safety — should only employ non-sworn security guards within the department and sworn police should only be called on campus for dire situations.

It’s unclear what a “dire” situation would be. A violent incident, such as a gunman on campus, could be a scenario where police would be called, according to Loyola Associate Criminology Professor Chris Donner, who isn’t involved with Campus Safety or the student protests.

Identifying a Campus Safety officer

Some Loyola students have said they weren’t able to follow up after interactions with Campus Safety officers since they didn’t know the officer’s name, according to the BCC’s recommendations. 

To address this issue, Campus Safety announced Oct. 13 officers will now hand out “integrity cards.”

Courtesy of Loyola University Chicago

Students and faculty members can request an “integrity card” from a Campus Safety officer after an interaction. The officer will then write their name, star number — similar to a badge number — and an incident number allowing follow up on the incident and for Campus Safety to know when the incident took place, according to an email from Murray to the Loyola community.

If someone who has an integrity card wants to follow up on the interaction, they would call Campus Safety or go into the office to get an update, Murray said.

Purnsley said Campus Safety has been open to meeting with the BCC on areas of improvement and said she’s glad to see it’s taken steps such as implementing integrity cards.

Additionally, the Illinois Private College Campus Police Act says university police must have distinctively different uniforms than local law enforcement. To distinguish themselves from CPD, Loyola officers wear non-blue shirts and use a different color scheme than CPD, said Murray.

Campus Safety posted additional guidelines on its website on how to identify police officers and security guards on campus.

The future of Loyola’s CPD discount program

Another Our Streets LUC demand is for Loyola to end its university partnership with CPD, which offers a 25 percent tuition discount to officers for select programs

Loyola said it has no plans to end this program because the university believes “all criminal justice professionals can benefit from Jesuit, liberal arts education,” Shymanski Zach wrote in an email to The Phoenix.

CPD doesn’t contribute money to run this program, Shymanski Zach said. The program costs the university an average of $14,300 per year for the past three years because fewer than 10 CPD officers used this program each year, according to Shymanski Zach.

Campus Safety isn’t involved with this program and Murray said the department wouldn’t be able to distinguish an officer using this program and a regular student taking classes.

In general, Donner said the more educated an officer, the less likely they will engage in misconduct or use excessive force. A Michigan State University study found an officer’s level of education has no influence over the probability of arrest or search in an encounter with a suspect. But officers with a college education — either an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree — are “significantly” less likely to use force than non-college-educated officers.

Campus Safety’s relationship to the Wellness Center

Another demand from Our Streets LUC calls for Loyola to send “trained social workers and other qualified professionals to answer emergency calls.”

Murray said this demand is unnecessary because Campus Safety officers are already trained to contact social workers and qualified professionals to help with people in crisis, experiencing mental health problems or who need help outside of a police officer.

“A lot of things people want are already being done,” Murray said. 

Campus Safety is trained to call mental health experts within Loyola’s Wellness Center for mental health incidents, according to Murray. Director of the Wellness Center Joan Holden said her department has a “good relationship” with Campus Safety, and Campus Safety has been very helpful in dealing with students needing mental health assistance.

When a mental health crisis occurs, whether during or after office hours, Campus Safety officers will connect a mental health expert with the person in crisis, according to Holden. The Wellness Center won’t release information on the frequency of these incidents, citing privacy concerns, she said.

Additional training recommendations for Campus Safety

Murray said Campus Safety officers are in a “constant” state of training. The training exercises include active-shooter drills, crisis management and implicit bias training, according to Campus Safety Operations Commander Bruce McCree. 

The BCC recommended adding racial sensitivity training to Campus Safety’s training protocols. 

“Clearly how you’re raised and where you’re at makes you think a certain way, and if you aren’t going to actively think about your biases, going through [racial sensitivity] training might be a good way to address them,” Elmore said.

Donner said implicit bias training is meant to reduce everyday bias officers have when it comes to decision-making. This training is important for police officers because every person has implicit bias and unchecked bias can lead to “ineffective, unsafe and unjust policing,” Donner said.

“The key aspiration is to condition officers to make race and other appearance factors irrelevant to the force decision,” Donner wrote in an email to The Phoenix.

Racial sensitivity training on the other hand teaches officers the history, customs and attitudes of different groups and how people’s perceptions shape their view of the police, according to Donner.  

Shymanski Zach told The Phoenix in an email “Campus Safety has not completed trainings that are titled specifically as ‘racial sensitivity’ trainings, but several of the trainings the department has conducted and completed could easily fall into that category, and the department is always looking to expand its training.”

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