Seeking new status, U. of C. police make changes

Staff Writer

The University of Chicago Police Department is making changes that create greater transparency and that would hold it to standards set by a law enforcement accreditation agency.

UCPD will host a public forum as part of the process to becoming an accredited law enforcement agency.

A public information forum will also be held at 7 p.m. on April 2 at UCPD headquarter, 6047 S. Drexel Ave., room 009A.

The public can provide comments to the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. April 2 by calling 773-834-1500. Comments will be limited to 10 minutes and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA standards.

CALEA assessors will begin evaluating UCPD, its policies and procedures, management, operations and support services on April 1.

CALEA is an independent organization that uses law enforcement best practices to create a standard for policing that any police or security organization can use.

UCPD received full police powers in 2013. It has 100 officers on staff and powers that include responding to emergency calls, patrolling neighborhoods, issuing tickets, searching citizens and arresting and charging culprits. It is funded by the University of Chicago. It patrols from 37th Street on the north to 65th Street on the south and Cottage Grove Avenue on the west to as far east as Lake Shore Drive.

Students and community members have called in recent months for UCPD to make public the demographic information, including age and race, of those it stops or arrests. The UCPD has declined.

CALEA accreditation would hold it to a standard governing profiling including racial and other bias-based varieties of profiling.

The agency’s bias-based profiling standards would require UCPD to include profiling related training annually, including field contacts, traffic stops, search issues, interview techniques, cultural diversity and community support.

CALEA defines bias based profiling as “the selection of an individual for enforcement action based solely on a trait common to a group. This includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, cultural group or any other identifiable group.”

The accreditation standards also would hold UCPD to a standard of conduct governing use of force. It does not have standards relating to public reporting of arrests, searches or who is stopped by the UCPD.

CALEA’S accreditation would mean that the UCPD meets certain professional standards. Its standards address a law enforcement agency’s role and policies relating to how it works with other agencies, how it’s organized, managed and administered, its personnel administration, its law enforcement operations, operational support, traffic law enforcement, detainee and court-related services and its auxiliary and technical services.

To remain compliant CALEA requires that an agency “comply only with those standards applicable to them.”

UCPD will also begin releasing an arrest log including basic information about those arrested by the private police force. The Local Records Act does not require the privately funded police force to release these records.

The arrest log will include basic information including an arrestee’s name, address, age and sex; charges and date, time and location of arrest.

This information will be made available by appointment to the media.