To the Editor:
On Oct. 29, a broad cross section of the South Side gathered at the Experimental Station to share their concerns about the policies and practices of the University of Chicago Police.
In light of issues raised at this public forum, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), proposed that a committee be formed, under her authority, to research those issues and make recommendations.
The undersigned are members of this committee-in-formation: the Citizens Action Committee for Fair University of Chicago Policing.
The purpose of this statement is to set forth our understanding of the agenda that emerged from the community forum.
There was substantial consensus on two points. First, the UCPD is a welcome presence in the communities it covers. Second, there is widespread concern about its lack of transparency and skepticism about its procedures for holding the department and its officers accountable.
These broad issues of transparency and accountability played through various specific concerns raised by participants in the forum; among them, alleged racial profiling of Black youth, gratuitous traffic stops, mishandling of sexual assault cases, and uncivil behavior toward neighborhood residents.
The UCPD as it exists today — a substantial force policing areas far beyond the U. of C. campus — was not foreseen when the university first instituted a security force. Nor was it foreseen when enabling legislation was enacted at state and municipal levels.
The moment is thus at hand to engage some fundamental questions. By deploying its police force across a wide area of the South Side, the University of Chicago, a private institution, is performing a critical public function. What forms of transparency flow from this? What forms of accountability?
We will approach these questions both as matters of law and matters of policy. We will also address other issues raised at the forum, such as training and communication with residents.
We intend to report back to the community later this fall.
If you are interested in joining the Committee, go to “Contact” at uofcpolicing.com.
Curtrice White Scott