The University of Kansas will implement all of the recommendations of the Task Force of Community-Responsive Public Safety’s report, Chancellor Douglas Girod announced Monday.
The task force, which was formed following months of protests nationwide in response to the murder of George Floyd last summer and included 26 members, released a report last winter that included 12 specific recommendations.
The task force recommended improving KU’s response to behavioral health emergencies by shifting responsibility for such calls from KU’s public safety office to mental health professionals and integrating KU services with already existing initiatives by Douglas County’s government.
Girod expressed support for this recommendation, citing existing efforts by the City of Lawrence and Douglas County to create a "coordinated community response to mental health crises." Until that response is in place, KU’s public safety office will continue to train officers in crisis intervention and trauma-informed responses to respond to mental health crises. The announcement did not include a timeline of when the coordinated community response might be implemented.
The task force’s report included recommendations for changes to the KU Public Safety Office’s policies, including updating their use of force policy.
The department’s policies have been updated, according to the announcement.
“The KUPSO Use of Force Policy has been revised to mirror the language of the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force,” the announcement said. “Notable differences from the Consensus Policy include a prohibition of warning shots and an expansion of the section on use-of-force reporting by officers who use force and by those who witness it.”
The task force presented recommendations on the oversight and advisory processes of KU’s public safety office, including the creation of a nine-member civilian oversight board, expanding access to the complaint process and training several officers as liaisons to groups in the KU community.
Girod expressed support for all three of these recommendations, and outlined the path ahead for the civilian oversight board.
“A critical factor of any oversight board is a clear statement of its purpose and mission,” the announcement said. “The Office of the Chancellor is committed to working on a clear statement of purpose and mission, as well as related details, during summer 2021 and having a board in place by the fall semester.”