Mason Releases Detailed Action Plan Outlining Future of Police and Community Relations

Posted: October 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm, Last Updated: October 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm

By Daniel Walsch

Mason released a series of 15 action steps it will take as a result of the findings from two reports that were completed over the summer. The reports recommend changes within Mason’s police force, as well as how the university can continue to ensure the safety and well-being of those on campus.

The first report, on University Police and University Community Relations, examined the interactions and experiences members of the Mason community have had with campus officers. The report was compiled by the Presidential Task Force, a group created by Mason President Alan Merten in March 2011 to establish a set of recommendations to “ensure the university has a competent, respectful and just police force.”

After announcing its mission through campus publications and by emailing members of the Mason community, the task force began its work in spring 2011 and continued through early summer 2011. Over that time, it held two public hearings, met separately with resident advisors and resident directors and had members of the Mason community submit their comments electronically.

“The Task Force report has provided us with invaluable insight into areas of disconnect between the actions of University Police and the expectations of the Mason community.  We can make the changes necessary to advance a stronger community policing model and an action plan of improvement immediately,” said Mason Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens. “The University Police leadership will seek greater input and work more closely with the campus community to find and implement the best ways of addressing these concerns.”

The second report was prepared by an independent consultant who examined the response by University Police officers to an incident that occurred at Fenwick Library in early 2011 when two students got into an argument over a study room.

After close review of the incident, the consultant’s report states that the actions by University Police with respect to the incident were within “lawful and discretionary bounds.” But the consultant does cite blame for all parties involved and adds that the incident was “unfortunate at many levels” by placing the two students in “conflict,” causing “friction” on campus and creating publicity that put University Police on the “defensive.”

Recommendations and findings led to the creation of the Action Plan for Police and Community Relations, which includes 15 areas the university will begin to pursue in the upcoming months.

In addition, the library is creating an electronic reservation system for study spaces in libraries at all Mason campuses, which will be implemented later this fall.

Document Links

The Presidential Task Force on University Police and University Community Relations Final Report can be found here: ur.gmu.edu/docs/100411b.pdf

The Due Diligence Review of the March 8, 2011, Fenwick Library Incident by Tomlinson Strategies can be found here: ur.gmu.edu/docs/100411c.pdf

The Action Plan for Police and Community Relations can be found here: ur.gmu.edu/docs/100411a.pdf

 

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