The following letter was sent to members of the police department when Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush was notified of their intent to send a letter to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Dear members of the Penn Police Department
These past few months have seen turbulent times across the country regarding race and law enforcement issues, as well as other social issues. I wanted to take a moment to tell each of you how very proud the Penn Police Command Staff and I are of you and your response to recent protests on and around campus. I am very proud of how our police department has evolved into a model private, urban, police agency. I have been leading our department for over 18 years. I have handpicked almost every member of our department. I have promoted 99 percent of our supervisors and commanders. I chose all of you, promoted all of you, because I believed you would be professional, empathetic, intelligent, caring and tactically sound law enforcement officers. I trusted that you could navigate a complicated community comprised of all types of diversity, opinions, beliefs and prejudices. You have not disappointed me, in fact, you have only made me proud.
I am writing to you now because I am aware that some of you are upset about an incident that occurred at the President’s house. On Tuesday evening, Dec. 9, President Amy Gutmann hosted her annual student Holiday Party at her home. This is an annual tradition filled with joy and fun. An event where the President gets an opportunity to interact and support Penn students as they enter into what we know to be a stressful exam period. Unfortunately, about fifty students chose to use this event as an opportunity to ambush President Gutmann and to prematurely end the party and fun for several hundred students who were cycling through the event. While in the tent the protesting students yelled at the president about her stand on a City of Philadelphia financial issue that affects the university called PILOTS. President Gutmann attempted to respond to the protesters by using a microphone and they continued to shout her down. Suddenly the students performed a “die in”. President Gutmann instinctively laid down on the ground in solidarity with the students. Unfortunately, in this day and age, virtually every student has a cell phone and they immediately snapped pictures.
I know that some of you are upset with the President’s gesture. I understand why you are upset. However, I also want to tell you a few things about the level of support our Police Department and the entire Division of Public Safety have received from President Gutmann since her arrival in 2004. Amy Gutmann and her team of EVP Craig Carnaroli and Provost Vince Price, have more than doubled our budget from under $13 million to $27 million today; expanded the numbers of the department to 116 sworn officers; expanded our special units to include our new K-9 unit, expansion of the ERT, new equipment, new vehicles, etc., etc.
More importantly, I want you to know that President Amy Gutmann has given us her unwavering moral support over her ten year tenure. Today, in the midst of a packed day of meeting, Amy sent me a wonderful email thanking all of our team who assisted her last night at the demonstration. She went on to thank us more generally. I want to share one point with you. Amy wrote:
“ Please convey my deepest appreciation to all of your officers and team, and more generally convey my support for all of their expert and caring protection and policing of our community.”
In difficult and tense situations we are forced to make instant decisions that may not please everyone. We’ve all been there. We hope that people who know and support us, will continue to support us and not make assumptions about what our intentions were. I ask that you extend the same courtesy to our president.
Rest assured, I know in my heart that President Amy Gutmann is 110 percent supportive of each and every member of our police department, and law enforcement in general. She is proud of us and thankful for all we do to keep Penn safe, secure and supportive of all members of our community.
Thanks for all you do for Penn.
Stay safe out there!
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