HYDE PARK — The University of Chicago needs to hear from the community to hold onto accreditation for its police force.
A team of assessors is visiting the 100-officer strong private police force starting on April 10 to determine whether the university will retain its accreditation.
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies granted the force accreditation for the first time in 2014 over the protests of student and activist groups. The new review could extend that designation for another four years.
The group is asking for opinions from the public as it reviews the policies and procedures, management, operations and support services of the university police.
The independent group’s stamp of approval can improve a private force’s reputation, but does not confer any extra rights or responsibilities.
The assessment will be conducted by Judith King, the retired police chief of the California State University–Fullerton Police Department, and Assistant Chief James Boyer, the retired assistant chief of Ohio’s Mansfield Police Department.
King and Boyer have set up a number, 773-834-8111, for the public to call and offer comments from 2-4 p.m. April 11. There will also be a public forum at 7 p.m. April 11 at the university’s human resources department, 6054 South Drexel Avenue, Room 144, for people who want to meet with the assessors personally.
University police have gone through several significant changes since the last review.
Reviews of complaints against officers are now done by an independent administrator at the university, though it avoided having to make those and other records public when a bill in Springfield failed.
There is also new leadership of the force. Eric Heath took over for Marlon Lynch as associate vice president for safety and security in the summer of 2016. The position had been separated from the job of chief of police in the summer of 2015, when Fountain Walker was promoted to the position.
During the 2014 review by the group of assessors, the university police faced accusations of racial profiling and large coordinated meetings of community groups and activists.
Written comments to the assessors can be sent to Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., 13575 Heathcote Blvd., Suite 320, Gainesville, VA, 20155, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.