The Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Safety in a Diverse Environment was submitted to the President and Provost on February 28, 2005 and published in Almanac March 1, 2005. President Amy Gutmann and Interim Provost Peter Conn’s Response to the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee appeared in Almanac March 15, 2005. Below is Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush’s Response to the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee.
Response to the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Safety in a Diverse Environment
March 16, 2005
I would like to thank the members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Safety in a Diverse Environment for their time and energy in discussing ideas, and offering constructive and thoughtful suggestions on ways to enhance communications between the Division of Public Safety and people of color at Penn.
The women and men of the Division of Public Safety remain committed to delivering the highest level of safety and security for all members of the Penn and surrounding West Philadelphia Communities. We recognize that in order to effectively achieve this challenging goal in an urban environment, we must work in partnership with our fellow community members, and we are committed to doing so.
Clearly, the best way to build strong bonds between DPS and the community is to provide venues for open dialogue. Currently the Division of Public Safety engages with the Penn and West Philadelphia communities through a number of forums. Here are a few examples:
• A UPPD representative attends ten (10) monthly West Philadelphia community meetings.
• A UPPD detective is assigned as a DPS liaison to each of the College Houses. The goal of this program is to give the College House masters and deans a point person for DPS services, and to allow the UPPD detective opportunities to address students, faculty and staff residing in all of the College Houses at various lectures and forums within the individual houses.
• Chief Dorsey has assigned every UPPD supervisor a specific zone of responsibility for all Penn buildings, with the goal of enhanced communications and customer service through one-on-one dialogues.
• DPS meets regularly with the UA, GAPSA, and the Minority Coalitions.
• DPS invites feedback from the community through the Division of Public Safety Customer Service Hotline (215) 573-TALK (8255).
• Additionally, we invite feedback through the Division of Public Safety Customer Service website, www.publicsafety.upenn.edu/forms/feedback.asp.
• We have installed a computer kiosk in our headquarters’ lobby, which allows visitors to learn more about the Division and the services we offer, as well as providing another venue for citizens to offer their feedback and suggestions.
• The Division performs Customer Service surveys as a means of obtaining feedback on services performed by various departments within our division.
• We have re-vamped the DPS website (www.publicsafety.upenn.edu) to provide information about the various departments within the Division, provide safety tips, resource options, etc.
In the upcoming months the Division will embark on several new initiatives:
A multi-year Diversity Training Program for all members of the Division. I have retained a national training consultant who is developing this training. The DPS Advisory Board’s Training subcommittee will offer guidance and advice on the proposed training.
Chief Dorsey and I have engaged the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a national law enforcement think tank, to assist Chief Dorsey in analyzing vehicle and pedestrian investigative data. This analysis will ensure that the UPPD is following national best practices in order to prevent bias-based stops.
Monthly Division of Public Safety-Student Colloquium
On the second Tuesday of each month of the academic year the DPS will host a DPS/Student Colloquium. These gatherings will be open to all students, undergraduate and graduate. Our goal is to foster dialogue in an informal and comfortable setting. Our hope is that these settings will give all students an opportunity to stop into DPS and learn what we do and for DPS to understand the needs and expectations of our students.
We all must recognize that there will be situations that arise in our community that have the potential of creating conflict between the Penn police and members of our community. When Penn police learn that a crime has just been committed, the police may stop a community member, who meets the physical description of the suspected perpetrator, and who is in the crime vicinity—and that community member may turn out to be completely innocent. These encounters are highly stressful for all involved. They cannot, however, be entirely avoided if the Penn police are to do their job of protecting the safety and security of the community. What we all must strive to do in these cases is to minimize the negative impact of these stops by relying on good communication and mutual respect between the person under investigation and the police officer conducting that investigation. In order to address these critical responsibilities, the Penn Police Department collaborated with member of the United Minorities Council to produce a brochure titled, “The Law and You and Penn” (www.publicsafety.upenn.edu/lawnu/brochurepg1.html), which describes these types of street level investigations and recommended responses for both citizens and police.
Although we cannot eliminate all of the challenges of protecting the safety and security of our community in this diverse and complex environment, Chief Dorsey and I do vow to ensure that when any person is stopped for investigation, they will be treated with respect and dignity. In turn we ask any community member who is stopped by an officer to return the same level of respect. It is our goal to continue to forge more opportunities for dialogue, which in turn will build trust and transparency between the community and the UPPD. We invite all members of the community to join us in this ongoing and important endeavor.
The Division of Public Safety’s mission statement best describes the core values that the men and women of the Division strive for each and every day. The mission reads as follows:
The Mission of the University of Pennsylvania’s Division of Public Safety is to enhance the quality of life, safety and security of our community. The Division accomplishes its mission through the delivery of a comprehensive and integrated safety and security program, in partnership with the community that we serve.
The members of the Division of Public Safety reflect the diversity of our community. We pledge to deliver professional safety and security services that value and respect the rights and differences of all members of the Division, as well as those of the University of Pennsylvania and the University City communities that we all proudly serve.
We are committed to the professional and personal development of all members of the Division of Public Safety, and in turn we expect all of our employees to be models of excellence. Ultimately, we strive each and every day to earn the trust, confidence and respect of our community.
—Maureen S. Rush, Vice President of Public Safety
Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 25, March 22, 2005