June 15, 2020
For those of you who may not be familiar with my background, I have proudly served for 30 years in law enforcement — starting on street patrols and growing into roles as a department leader and educator of officers. For the last four years, I have been honored to serve in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Police Department, first as assistant chief and, more recently, as the interim chief.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of now former members of the Minneapolis Police Department is senseless and inhumane.
This tragedy and its impacts have been felt across the country and around the world. In particular, the black community can identify directly with the current and historical context of police brutality and racial injustices inflicted by law enforcement and beyond for generations.
Public condemnation of police misconduct and concerns surrounding the existing racial disparities are warranted and justified reactions to Mr. Floyd’s death.
On campus, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Police Department is responsible for providing a safe and secure community that offers our students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn, work and live.
Our commitment to providing that safe environment where every person and interaction matters is unwavering — ensuring there is no discrimination based on race, gender identity, socioeconomic status or other identities that can lead to discrimination and division.
As a department, we strive to be a leader in observing best practices in policing. That focus has earned us accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which is considered the gold standard in public safety.
For more than six years, our officers have followed best practices in using body cameras while on duty. And, in the last year, we have worked to expand officer training and increase our campus engagement.
We require that all officers complete implicit bias training and we have broadened our knowledge related to de-escalating behavioral health crises and supporting victims. We also offer an opportunity for the public to learn about the department through the Citizen Police Academy; work directly with many campus groups, including Greek and Residential Life communities; and our Police Advisory Board, which has broad university representation, helps shape law enforcement practices on campus.
In 2019, an external assessment of UNLPD was conducted. It resulted in several recommendations which have led to department improvements. These include continuing the expansion of our community engagement, further defining campus safety responsibilities, establishing parameters for increased accountability, improving hiring practices and enhancing training and professional development.
We are the lead agency and responsible for all policing that occurs at our university. However, we do maintain working partnerships with local agencies, including the Lincoln Police Department, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and the Nebraska State Patrol. These collaborations are necessary as they allow us to provide safety and security for large campus events, including Husker football and volleyball games. All external officers who serve during these events are held to the same high standards we expect across our university department.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd and too many others, we know we must do more. In the coming weeks, we plan to expand our Police Advisory Board so that it allows for even greater representation of diverse voices, including the black community. Through the board, we will dive deeper into our policies and training, finding ways we can continue to move forward and do better for the entire university community. As these examinations lead to specific actions, we will be transparent and share them with you.
Law enforcement officers individually and collectively have a responsibility to provide fair and equitable policing, a duty to care, and a responsibility to preserve and protect lives. As a career law enforcement professional, I believe it is important for us to be accountable to you, actively listen to you, and work together so we can better serve you.
Interim Chief and Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Police Department