The Division of Public Safety announced on Tuesday new measures to increase the transparency of its operations and improve its accountability to Penn and West Philadelphia communities.
The most recent measures are in response to a report released in April by the Penn Public Safety Review and Outreach Initiative, which recommended Penn increase transparency about the structure, funding, oversight, and activities of DPS. The report also urged Penn to reallocate funding from policing into campus and West Philadelphia initiatives and reduce the presence of Penn Police.
New measures include the establishment of the DPS Transparency Website, which includes documents describing DPS operations and the expansion of the Public Safety Liaison Program, in which Penn Police officers meet regularly with administrative leaders. DPS is also expanding its advisory board to include three seats for West Philadelphia residents, developing a survey to solicit feedback from Penn and West Philadelphia communities, and is exploring options to expand its mental health responder model, according to the announcement by Vice President for Public Safety and Superintendent of the Penn Police Department Maureen Rush.
The report's recommendations are based on an independent review of DPS that was commissioned by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett in July 2020, following nationwide protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd and ensuing criticism of policing on campus.
The review process was led by Penn Law School professor Dorothy Roberts and Vice President for Social Equity and Community and University Chaplain Charles Howard, with support from Penn Law's Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice.
Documents released on the DPS Transparency Website include data on vehicle and pedestrian stops, information on the department's equipment, police directives, the hiring and training process for Penn Police officers, and the process to file a complaint against DPS.
The Tuesday announcement also pointed to current DPS initiatives that address the report's recommendations. In response to the report's recommendation that Penn invest less in policing and more in community initiatives, Rush emphasized the Tucker Police Athletic League Center, a partnership between Penn and the Philadelphia Police Athletic League designed to enhance youth athletics.
In response to the recommendation urging increased accountability of DPS, Rush pointed to the annual publication of complaints against Penn Police officers and the recent appointment of Nicole McCoy as the commanding officer of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Senior Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli and Interim Provost Beth Winkelstein commended the new measures by DPS in a Sept. 21 statement.
“The Division of Public Safety has embraced these recommendations and developed new processes and procedures to implement them,” Carnaroli and Winkelstein wrote. "We will provide further progress reports to the community as this implementation continues to move forward.”
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