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Division of Public Safety
April 24, 2007, Volume 53, No. 31

Executive Summary: DPS Response to Huntsman Hall Incident, March 21, 2007

Background

On Wednesday, March 21, 2007, at approximately 8:05 p.m., Penn police officers responded to an emergency radio call for “a fight in progress and disturbance inside of Huntsman Hall.” The call originated from the AlliedBarton security supervisor, at the Walnut Street security desk entrance to the building. Police were given the description of a male who was involved in the altercation with the security officers and his direction of travel. Based upon this information, the Penn police stopped a male at 37th & Walnut Street. While several Penn police officers and a Penn police supervisor interviewed the male, other officers responded to Huntsman Hall to ascertain if anyone was physically injured in the lobby of Huntsman Hall. The entire interaction between the student and the Penn police at 37th & Walnut lasted five (5) minutes.

The student involved in this incident declined to submit an official Division of Public Safety Citizen’s Complaint form. Irrespective of whether or not an official complaint was filed in this situation, DPS immediately launched an internal investigation, based upon all available information. The investigation included a complete review of the CCTV video that captured the interaction between the student and Penn Police officers at 37th and Walnut Street in its entirety; a review of the PennComm communications center’s audio tape of the “511” emergency call from Huntsman Hall; all radio communications of the Penn Police, and thirteen (13) interviews.

Results of the Investigation

• The Penn Police were directed to respond to “a fight in progress and disturbance inside of Huntsman Hall” between an unidentified male and the female security officer, assigned to the Walnut Street entrance of Huntsman Hall and her supervisor.

• Responding officers were given a full description of the male by a PennComm emergency communications dispatcher.

• The PennComm CCTV Operator captured a male fitting the description of the male engaged in the reported altercation, walking east on Walnut towards 37th Street.

•  The Penn Police were directed to the male, who was walking eastbound on Walnut Street, by the PennComm CCTV operator, who was observing him real-time. Based on the physical description given by the AlliedBarton security supervisor and the CCTV operator, the male was stopped at 37th and Walnut in front of the Graduate School of Education.

•  Penn Police asked the male for his PennCard identification. As a result of the male not having his PennCard on his person, Penn Police asked PennComm operators to ascertain the University status of the male who was stopped.

•  There was no use of force on the part of the responding Police Officers.

•  A Penn Police Supervisor was on the scene and monitored the entire stop.

•  Following their training in Interpersonal Communications and Diversity issues, the Police Officers informed the male why he was being stopped and what actions they needed to take in order to ascertain his identity and status within the University. Additionally, police needed to ensure that there were no injured persons inside of Huntsman as a result of the altercation. Based on the individual’s demeanor, as well as for the safety of all persons present in a high-volume pedestrian area (including the male stopped, the police officers, and those persons walking nearby), and finally until it was determined that no crimes, including a possible assault (as had been reported to Penn Police) and/or criminal trespass, had been committed within Huntsman Hall, Penn Police utilized handcuffs during the first four (4) minutes of the stop, which was well within the training and procedural guidelines for the UPPD. The officers and their supervisor, after having ascertained all the information outlined above, thanked the student for his cooperation. The entire interaction lasted five (5) minutes and was documented by a DPS CCTV Camera.

• The completed investigative report was reviewed by Chief Mark Dorsey and submitted to me for final review.

•  An overview of the incident and the findings were presented to the Division of Public Safety Advisory Board on Tuesday, April 3, 2007. The Advisory Board comprises faculty, staff and student representatives from the UMC, the UA and GAPSA.

•  The investigation showed that, based on the nature of the emergency call for assistance, the Penn Police responded well within the guidelines of the department’s policies and procedures.

Conclusion

The University of Pennsylvania Police Department officers responding to this incident conducted themselves in accordance with departmental policies and procedures, and treated the student stopped in a just, fair and professional manner. The Division of Public Safety, in particular the Penn Police, however, recognizes that these are very difficult issues. History, perceptions and our life experiences, all matter when it comes to policing and community relationships, and we must continue to find ways to build trust and confidence with members of Penn’s diverse community, especially minority community members.

Over the years, we have built partnerships throughout the University in order to address questions, fears and concerns regarding the relationship between minority communities (irrespective of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion and ability) and Penn Police*. It is without question that we will work, as a Division, and as a University, to strengthen those partnerships that will better serve the evolving needs of our student, faculty and staff community members.

*For select highlights, please see the Appendix below.

—Maureen S. Rush, Vice President for Public Safety

Appendix

Select Initiatives, Trainings and Services

Annual Diversity Awareness Training for all UPPD and PennComm Personnel:

The 2006 diversity-related training for University of Pennsylvania Police Department and PennComm personnel was conducted by Dr. Michael Baime, director of the Penn Program for Stress Management, and was entitled, “Managing Conflict in a Diverse Environment.” The overarching goal of the training was to provide UPPD (first responders to all emergency calls) and PennComm (emergency radio dispatchers) personnel, with useful psychological and communicative tools to help facilitate clearer, calmer and more empathetic interactions with all persons, regardless of differences, whom these first responders encounter during the course of their job.

Training for New Recruits in the UPPD:

Sixteen (16) new UPPD officers received eight hours of Cultural Awareness training (modified as per the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee) as part of their induction into the police force.

New recruits also received an eight-hour course in “Verbal Judo” training, a technique which is designed to provide officers with the verbal communication skills necessary to diffuse high-conflict situations during interactions that police may encounter while on duty.

Roll-Call Training:

Throughout the year, police officers receive systematic and continued roll-call trainings relative to professional interactions with members of the public who are stopped by the UPPD, with an emphasis on diversity awareness.

Citizen Complaints:

The University of Pennsylvania Police Department’s goal is to improve the quality of services provided, to promote a high level of public confidence, and to enhance and maintain the professional integrity of this department and its members. That is, the UPPD and its members will perform their duties within the boundaries of established contemporary legal and ethical standards. The department has established and promoted these standards through clear, written policy statements and rules and regulations, and through the thorough and impartial investigation of all allegations of misconduct or complaints regarding the directives of the department.

A formal procedure to receive, document, and investigate all citizen complaints allows the department to monitor and enforce standards, and is the administrative statement that behavior deviating from these adopted standards will not be tolerated. With a meaningful and effective procedure for handling citizen complaints, we believe citizen confidence in the integrity of the department and its employees will be achieved and maintained.

It is the policy of the department to accept, document, review, and investigate all instances of alleged misconduct, to include complaints regarding the directives or procedures of the department, and to equitably determine whether the allegations are valid or invalid and to take appropriate action. All allegations of misconduct will be investigated, regardless of whether initiated by citizen complaint, other external agencies, internally generated, or discovered through the internal review and administrative processes of the department.

Anonymous complaints, or complaints from citizens who wish their names to be held in confidence, shall be accepted for investigation. Citizens offering anonymous complaints are advised that our ability to investigate the complaint may be limited by their anonymity.

The University of Pennsylvania Police Department has collaborated with many other administrative offices within the University to provide multiple locations, independent of the Division of Public Safety headquarters, in which police complaint forms are located and accessible to the Penn student, staff and faculty. These centers and offices include:

Campus Resource Centers: Greenfield Intercultural Center, La Casa Latina, MAKUU, PAACH, Penn Women’s Center, LGBT Center, African American Resource Center, Student Intervention Services, Career Services, Office of the Vice Provost for University Life, Counseling & Psychological Services, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of Health Education.

Forms may also be acquired through various student groups, such as the minority coalitions, the UA, and GAPSA.

Forms may be obtained via the DPS website at, www.publicsafety.upenn.edu, and submitted electronically.

Formal Data Analysis & Review

Comprehensive data are recorded, maintained and analyzed with respect to race of all persons stopped by the UPPD, as well as the race of the Police Officer involved in each incident report. This process is enacted on a daily basis by police supervisors, and on a monthly basis by Chief Dorsey and Vice President Rush.

Lorie Fridell, Ph.D., then director of research for the Police Executive Research Forum1 and a social scientist by training, has close to 20 years conducting research on law enforcement and is a nationally recognized expert on the subject of racial profiling. She is the lead author of Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response (PERF, 2001), a report sponsored by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and By The Numbers: A Guide for Analyzing Race Data from Vehicle Stops (PERF, 2004). Dr. Fridell has written extensively on such topics as police use of force, citizen complaints, police pursuits and problem-oriented policing. Dr. Fridell is currently a professor of criminology at the University of South Florida.

Dr. Fridell, in the fall of 2005, was commissioned as a consultant by Vice President Maureen Rush, to examine the UPPD’s systematic approach and response to the critical issue of racially biased policing. Dr. Fridell’s report, entitled, “Developing a Comprehensive UPenn Division of Public Safety Response to Racially Biased Policing and the Perceptions of Its Practice,” focused on an analysis of four different areas within the UPPD administration:

1) Policies prohibiting racially biased policing

2) Training

3) Outreach to diverse communities

4) Data collection, analysis and reporting

Dr. Fridell, with whom the Division of Public Safety will continue to consult as a national expert in this area, gave a full presentation of her findings during the April 2006 meeting of the DPS Advisory Board. She reported that DPS has already engaged in significant efforts to combat racially biased policing and the perceptions of its practice. She identified a number of areas that manifest state-of-the-art procedures and programs, and concluded that further action, such as enhanced training for supervisors, and minimal adjustments to data collections are quite manageable. These suggestions have already been integrated into the curriculum for training, and procedures for accountability. She concluded that, “the University of Pennsylvania is committed to the goal of making DPS a national model in terms of a comprehensive and effective response to the issues of racially biased policing and the perceptions of its practice.”

1 PERF: The Police Executive Research Forum is a national professional association of chief executives of large city, county and state law enforcement agencies. PERF’s objective is to improve the delivery of police services and the effectiveness of crime control through several means: 1) The exercise of strong national leaderships; 2) The public debate of police and criminal justice issues; 3) The development of research and policy and 4) The provision of vital management and leadership services to police agencies.

Almanac - April 24, 2007, Volume 53, No. 31