Letter: DPS decision was made too fast
I was one of many student leaders who signed the testimony last Friday encouraging the state Board of Higher Education to vote down the University’s request to create a campus police force.
Though the fact that the Board held off on giving permission to arm officers is a small victory, there were other problems with the idea of a campus police force.
One of these problems is cost. At hearings during last year’s session, the University’s budget left much to be desired in terms of transparency, specificity and plans to cap growth of the department as time passes. To my knowledge, there is currently no budget proposal in writing.
Another important issue is oversight. I sit as a student representative on the Department of Public Safety Restructuring Board, and I can tell you that there is an important conversation going on right now about how best to handle grievances against officers. Many on the board seek to allow DPS to resolve all issues internally, but this system would not maintain the level of public accountability necessary to protect students’ and community members’ procedural rights.
It is my belief that the notes of these meetings should be made public so students are aware of the process by which their campus police force is being planned.
The editorial earlier this week (“DPS police force mostly good for University,” ODE, Oct. 10, 2011) was correct in saying that as we move forward with this process, the community must be engaged and students must govern the force. Given the importance of community involvement, it is unfortunate that the approval was granted to move forward before a satisfactory mechanism to facilitate this involvement was in place.
University Students for Sensible Drug Policy