Michael Saunders, director of campus partnerships for ASUW, created plans to implement a community-based approach to safety. Student Protection Services (SPS) would institute multiple policy and operational changes to the current campus security system run by the UWPD.
Saunders worked closely with members of the Black Student Union (BSU) to meet their demands for disarm and divest from UWPD in favor of creating a system “safer and more accessible to all students,” said Saunders.
“Student protection services are pretty much a replacement model for UWPD,” Saunders said. “It would focus more on student safety and proactive rather than reactive resources, which I think most police departments are based on.”
Saunders met with UW President Ana Mari Cauce on November 5 to discuss aligning their ideas and how students and administration can work together on this program.
“I believe we both have a great understanding of how we can protect students, track state compliance, and ensure BSU requests are met at some point on the spectrum between giving them exactly what they want and follow the laws of the state, ”Saunders wrote in an email.
According to Cauce, the UW administration has already changed UWPD’s operations over the past year in response to feedback from students and faculty.
“The principles that guide us are those that I laid out in various places last spring, ”Cauce wrote in an email. “First, we look at campus safety holistically, not just from a policing perspective. Second, where possible, we tailor our response as needed. The hiring and deployment of unarmed security personnel is an obvious step in this direction. “
Saunders sees his plan as a middle ground between ensuring the safety of all students while providing necessary security on campus.
“I’m honestly pretty confident that this is a very good presentation of ‘This is how you meet your needs to have an armed force on campus’ and’ This is how you meet the needs of students by ensuring that they don’t get killed by armed forces on campus and making sure everyone feels safe, ”Saunders said.
As the campus security system, the SPS would have the same legal authority as the UWPD, although its use of power and force is more heavily regulated, according to Saunders. Saunders’ plan emphasizes the use of subdivisions within the SPS, with separate respondents and employees responding to different security situations.
Saunders has set up several different units of the program, including a victim advocacy unit specializing in supporting survivors of assault, a mental health crisis response team, and support staff for the population without. housing district U.
According to Saunders, the SPS would take a community-based approach to patrolling neighborhoods, taking the form of a “neighborhood watch” program that relies on reporting passers-by and responding to crime.
The SPS would include an armed response team, although its scope and power is limited compared to the UWPD’s policies on armed response.
“I understand that this section has to exist,” Saunders said. “It would be a tactical response team, and there would be different stipulations that they would only be dispatched in certain situations.”
Any tactile response would be analyzed and approved before the armed response, with SPS leaders approving the level of force allowed to be used based on the seriousness of the situation, according to Saunders. The plan for the SPS also mitigates the fact that mental health specialists would be consulted to guide responses to crime, and that non-lethal weapons would be prioritized.
“There would be a bit more regulation on how this power is to be used and what the accountability processes are for when that power is used,” Saunders said.
Saunders predicts that SPS will have geographic jurisdiction over areas such as the Avenue, the off-campus student neighborhoods north of NE 45th Street, and the U-Village – all areas over which The UWPD does not have full jurisdiction. Although the UWPD has a memorandum of understanding with the SPD allowing it to patrol Greek Row, Saunders hopes to reach an agreement with the SPD allowing the SPS to have more autonomy over a larger area of the U District.
Saunders pitched the idea to the ASUW Senate last year, although he found the 20-page bill too long to make its way through the legislature in a timely manner. Saunders instead asked students with designated Senate seats to give their opinion and make changes to the plan, but not in an official capacity.
“A lot of people have worked on this,” Saunders said. “Most students of color, queer students, pretty much mostly marginalized students have been working this past year throughout the spring.”
Saunders predicts that the SPS will go into effect in about three years, depending on factors such as “pushback, logistics, administrative convince, state convince and what the transition [from UWPD to SPS] looks like.”
Saunders encourages students to contact him at [email protected] with questions, concerns or comments about the program.
“This is the most important thing we insist on is that we try to include as many student opinions as possible while still focusing on marginalized identities,” Saunders said. “If a student feels like they’re not included or can’t access these services, I want to assure them that these services are for all students. “
Contact reporter Mari Kanagy at [email protected] Twitter: @mari_kanagy
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