A new public safety review and outreach initiative launches

This Public Safety Review and Outreach Initiative seeks to conduct a comprehensive review and outreach program to assess Penn’s success in creating a physically and emotionally safe environment.

Outside picture of Penn campus with people walking and sitting on a bench

Penn has announced the launch of a Public Safety and Outreach Initiative that will conduct a comprehensive review of public safety at Penn. A team of presidential advisers will undertake the review and outreach program in order to develop recommendations to present to President Amy Gutmann, Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, and Provost Wendell Pritchett.

The goal of the review is to assess Penn’s success in creating a physically and emotionally safe environment on campus and in the surrounding community, while treating every person with dignity and respect, and in a way that prioritizes and promotes anti-racism, racial equality, and justice.

Penn’s vision for the Initiative is to seek to provide an environment in which every member of the University community can feel physically and emotionally safe, and experience a sense of equal belonging.

The presidential advisers include Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, professor of Africana Studies, and Charles “Chaz” Howard, vice president for social equity and community and University chaplain; along with John Hollway, associate dean and executive director and Paul Heaton, senior fellow and academic director, both of the Penn Carey Law School’s Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice.

The Process

The Initiative will be organized into two parts.

First, a review of the policies, procedures, and outcomes of Penn’s Division of Public Safety (DPS) will be conducted. During the first the part of the Initiative, the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the Penn Carey Law School, with the support of the presidential advisers, will work with DPS to gather available data on the current relationship between DPS and the Penn community, the larger West Philadelphia community, and public safety and policing agencies outside of Penn.

The types of data collected for review will include: use of force, racial profiling, and other potential forms of bias in policing, such as vehicle and pedestrian stops. The data will also review virtual patrol, transparency, the process to review complaints against police officers and other DPS personnel. The Initiative will also analyze accreditation reports along with institutional surveys, such as staff engagement and campus climate.

The second part of the Initiative process will include a series of “virtual hearings” to receive input from members of the Penn community and residents of the West Philadelphia community. An additional opportunity will be provided for those who are unable to participate in the virtual hearings to provide their views and ideas in writing.

The virtual hearings will enable members of the Penn and West Philadelphia community to describe their experiences with the DPS and offer their ideas and suggestions on ways to achieve the common goal of providing an environment in which every member of the Penn community can feel physically and emotionally safe, and experience a sense of equal belonging.

Among the groups that the Initiative will invite to participate at the virtual hearings include:
•    Undergraduate and graduate students, in particular students of color
•    Students, faculty, and staff with residences in West Philadelphia
•    The “First Thursday” 40th Street community meeting group
•    West Philadelphia community leaders
•    The Penn Department of Public Safety Advisory Board
•    Penn faculty and staff
•    Leaders of cultural and student engagement organizations
•    Members of the Penn Division of Public Safety
•    The Penn Office of Violence Prevention

The presidential advisers will work collaboratively to deliver a report and recommendations by Oct. 1 that presents its review of input reflecting the diversity of views expressed from the virtual hearings, and the data collected.