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IUPD releases new commission report

By Caroline Dwyer Gilley

November 18, 2021

Eighteen months since the Indiana University Police Department began work to improve officer training, data collection and response-to-resistance reporting with the De-escalation and Training Commission, a second commission has released the Policy, Hiring and Training Review Commission report, providing a roadmap to expand on those efforts. Benjamin D. Hunter. Photo by Indiana University Benjamin D. Hunter. Photo by Indiana University

The latest commission brought together students, staff and faculty members from across Indiana University during 2020 and 2021 to review IUPD policies, hiring and recruitment practices, and training.

The Policy, Hiring and Training Review Commission report is organized around three pillars — IUPD policies; hiring, recruitment and retention; and training — with 19 specific recommendations, each with an associated deadline.

Within the policy pillar, recommendations include continuing the seven campus Chief’s Advisory Boards, expanding the Police Data Initiative public dashboards, and focusing on more egregious violations for vehicle stops rather than minor offenses. The hiring pillar calls for university-wide hiring and onboarding processes, as well as increasing diversity within IUPD and making salaries competitive to recruit the best candidates. The training pillar builds on the 2018 commission report by recommending programs to ensure fair and equitable calls for service and the creation of a standalone de-escalation curriculum.

Both IUPD commissions were inspired by the President’s Task Force on 21st-Century Policy, created in 2015 by then-President Barack Obama with the goal of strengthening law enforcement training, professionalism and community engagement across the U.S.

“Like the De-escalation and Training Commission report, the latest commission findings and report will change how IUPD operates,” said Benjamin D. Hunter, superintendent for public safety and associate vice president for public safety and institutional assurance at IU. “With the national climate around policing following the murder of George Floyd, the timing was right to review IUPD’s policies and practices and ensure they continue to be progressive and inclusive. The commission’s work was inwardly focused on the one hand, but also locally and nationally focused in terms of how policing should work.”

The Policy, Hiring and Training Review Commission consisted of three sub-groups, each with a chair and co-chair, with IU students significantly involved in each of them.

“We are constantly reviewing our training and policies to fit the needs of the IU community, and we want to ensure that we are hiring the right people who fit the mission of our university,” said Chief Jill Lees of IUPD-Bloomington. “Students want a voice, and by including students in the work of the commission, we are building trust and credibility and giving students the opportunity to play a role in creating effective change.”

Additionally, Natalie Hipple and Tri Keah Henry, both faculty members in the Department of Criminal Justice in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, played an important role by bringing an independent, academic perspective to the commission’s work. The involvement of faculty researchers allowed for an outside, data-focused view of IUPD operations.

“Drs. Hipple and Henry brought years of academic research and a strong focus on data to the table that was critical to our work,” Hunter said.

As with the initial commission report, IU Internal Audit will conduct an independent audit in the future to ensure the recommendations were implemented.

IUPD is in the first year of a three-year process to obtain accreditation through the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and will be the first university to be accredited as a whole rather than as a single campus. Once accredited, IUPD may handle future commissions differently, but Hunter said IUPD will always strive to have the most progressive policies and practices in place to serve the IU community.

Caroline Dwyer Gilley is assurance communications manager with IU Studios.