By LINDSAY WELBERS
The University of Chicago Police Department will be subject to increased scrutiny after its interactions with protesters in recent months have upset students and community members.
The University of Chicago will review the policies and practices that led to the allegedly violent arrests of four protestors outside of the Center for Care and Discovery in late January and further led to the UCPD sending an undercover officer to a pose as a protestor at a separate march in February.
“We view this action as totally antithetical to our values, and such activity, which is deeply problematic for discourse and mutual respect on campus, cannot be tolerated. We will appoint an external independent reviewer to investigate the precise facts of this incident, as part of taking action to ensure that such behavior does not happen again,” president Robert Zimmer said in a statement sent out to students on March 3.
Zimmer went on to say the campus environment should allow for free expression and “the right to legitimate protest, is essential to our values and the nature of the University.”
Two people from UCPD were placed on administrative leave following the event where officer Janelle Marcellis was photographed among the protestors on February 23.
Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), Students for Health Equality (SHE) and other trauma center advocates marched to 59th Street and Ellis Avenue, to Zimmer’s campus home, to protest a lack of a trauma care center on the South Side. Photos were taken of Marcellis allegedly sending text messages to a contact named “Deputy Chief Owens (work.)”
University spokesman Steve Kloehn declined to say who the two persons placed on leave were and he further declined to say if the leave was paid or unpaid.
The Chicago Maroon, the university’s student newspaper, first reported the story.
University news director Jeremy Manier denied the school’s involvement with the undercover protester.
“University leaders were not aware that a UCPD officer would pose as a protester. The first that University leaders learned of this issue was from the Maroon story,” Manier said.
Protestors had worked with UCPD and University of Chicago Medicine officials prior to the march to ensure that there would be no conflicts while patients were moved into the Center for Care and Discovery.
“The event plan created and implemented by UCPD did not approve of any officer actively participating in the protest. That will be one focus of an internal investigation undertaken by the UCPD. Two employees have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this internal review,” said Marlon Lynch, associate vice president for safety and security at the University of Chicago and UCPD chief of police.