The CU Boulder Community Safety Task Force, which has been examining ways of strengthening the relationship between the University of Colorado Boulder Police Department and the campus community, has issued final recommendations to university leaders.
- June 26: Following a series of student-led protests across Boulder County, CUPD Chief Doreen Jokerst held an initial meeting with prominent student leaders to hear and understand their concerns about policing practices on campus and in the broader Boulder community. Attendees included members of the Black Student Alliance, the three branches of CU Student Government (CUSG), the Cultural Events Board, and a student who was part of the city of Boulder’s police oversight implementation team. Students asked for a more inclusive mechanism within CUPD to allow policing reforms to be implemented with community involvement.
- July 29: At a second meeting, Jokerst provided student leaders with a list of proposed action items that sought to increase transparency between CUPD and the student body. Student leaders agreed to meet consistently with CUPD and agreed that CUSG would act as an intermediary between CUPD and the campus community.
- Aug. 18: Chancellor Phil DiStefano announced the formation of a Community Safety Task Force. Members included representatives from student, faculty and staff shared governance groups and CUPD. The task force met multiple times during the fall semester, and members solicited feedback from their constituents.
- Dec. 2: The task force asked for community feedback before issuing its final recommendations.
- February: The task force issued its final recommendations, which center on how the board would be established and next steps to ensure its success.
- Feb. 25: Dan Jones, associate vice chancellor for integrity, safety and compliance, accepted and acknowledged receipt of the task force’s final report.
The task force’s key recommendation focuses on the university establishing a community review board that would provide ongoing guidance to CUPD Police Chief Doreen Jokerst or her designee about a variety of department policies, decisions, training and community engagement efforts. The task force also recommends the university appoint a second task force to determine the next steps for establishing such a board.
“The task force reviewed several models of community oversight and decided that a community review board model most closely aligned with the objectives of the students and the needs of the CU Boulder campus community,” task force members wrote in their final report.
In August, Chancellor Phil DiStefano announced the formation of the task force to evaluate campus policing policies and practices, and asked members––who included students, faculty, staff and shared governance group representatives––to recommend strategies to ensure campus public safety efforts work for the entire community.
Paul Taylor, an assistant professor in the CU Denver School of Public Affairs, served as an external facilitator to the task force and began meeting with members in late-August with the goal of examining how CUPD could build greater trust and expand its engagement with students, faculty and staff, especially Black, Indigenous and other people of color who study, teach, work and conduct research on campus.
“Task force members were asked to identify actionable recommendations,” Taylor said. “I found the work that student leaders had already done in collaboration with the chief this summer laid the groundwork for what they worked to achieve, including establishing ongoing collaborative work between CUPD and the campus community well into the future.”
Isaiah Chavous, a student body president who served on the task force, met recently with Chief Jokerst to discuss how the community review board would work when fully implemented. He and Jokerst agreed to the task force’s 10 recommendations as a foundation, but Chavous noted the final details about the board’s implementation are still underway.
“I have full confidence the board will take its proper form and provide the needed support to our CU community,” Chavous said. “I will continue working closely with the chief and the CU administration to ensure the board comes to fruition in a timely manner. We must cross the finish line.”
Jokerst and Dan Jones, associate vice chancellor for integrity, safety and compliance, met with task force members on March 11 to thank them for their service and to discuss ways of moving forward with next steps based on the group’s report.
In a Feb. 25 memo to task force members, Jones committed to posting the group’s recommendations on the Office of Integrity, Safety and Compliance website and to providing updates on progress allowing for “a more transparent and accountable process to our community stakeholders.”
Jones also said he would work to identify funding for the board, given that the proposed scope of responsibilities envisioned for it “are broad and cannot be accomplished solely through volunteer work. To be sustainable over the coming years, the board will need both financial and staffing resources.” In addition, he said his office would need to ensure the recommendations are in full compliance with university policies and state laws and policies as they apply to personnel issues.
“Please know we are committed to your recommendations and ensuring those are implemented to ensure (a) lasting impact at CU,” Jones said in the memo.
Jokerst shared the task force’s recommendations with an external consultant, the Center for Policing Equity, which recommended that she review what other campuses are doing to inform next steps in the process. Jokerst has worked with the Los Angeles-based center for the past two years and is reviewing similar community-based public safety programs at the University of Chicago, Syracuse University and the University of Arizona.
Chief Jokerst said she looks forward to the creation of the community review board and welcomes the ability to meet more regularly with students, faculty and staff.
“A number of the recommendations from the Community Safety Task Force are to review and provide recommendations to me on policies, procedures and training on a number of policing practices,” she said. “This community involvement provides for a much more transparent police department, and I welcome the collaborative process.”
The following are the task force’s recommendations:
- The formation of a CUPD community review board and a second task force to determine how such a board would be established.
- The responsibility to review and provide recommendations to the chief of police or the chief’s designee on any current CUPD policies and protocols, including internal affairs processes to ensure they are reflective of current community processes.
- The responsibility to review and provide recommendations to the chief of police or the chief’s designee on disciplinary actions taken against officers; the task force recommends this should occur at the conclusion of internal affairs processes but before actual disciplinary action is taken.
- The ability to access CUPD data that is of interest to the board and the responsibility to advise on data made available to the public.
- The responsibility to collect and analyze data from the community on CUPD interactions with the public and general community sentiments toward CUPD to inform the board’s general aims.
- The responsibility to actively participate in the hiring and promotion processes for CUPD officers, including participation in oral board interviews.
- The responsibility to review and provide recommendations on CUPD hiring and promotion processes, including recommendations on the composition of the department’s oral boards and assessment processes.
- The responsibility to review and provide recommendations on all CUPD training, including but not limited to anti-racism and implicit bias training.
- The responsibility to review and provide recommendations on CUPD community engagement activities.
- The ability to provide innovative recommendations independent of existing departmental structures, policies or practices.
Read the task force's entire report at the Office of Integrity, Safety and Compliance website.