Syracuse University (SU) has vowed to improve its community policing after the SU Department of Public Safety (DPS) was determined to have failed in its response to the hate crimes and subsequent protests that erupted two years ago.
SU Chancellor Kent Syverud announced the findings of an independent review led by former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch which probed racist and anti-Semitic graffiti incidents back in 2019.
The 97-page report stated that while DPS followed strict protocols when the events occurred, it did not properly provide the communication and transparency necessary to make students feel safe. Many students found the crime troubling and Syverud remarked that “actions taken by the University, including by DPS, exacerbated that fear.”
Police Response Found Lacking Despite Investigation
Despite conducting an investigation, the review stated that “DPS was unable to apprehend the perpetrator or perpetrators of these incidents in the vast majority of cases, which not only frustrated the students and compounded those fears, but also contributed to the perception that DPS and the administration did not take the bias-related incidents seriously.”
These results further worsened the perception of the student body that SU officials and its campus police officers “did not appreciate students’ concerns and were too slow to respond.”
Recommendations in the report included action items to improve communication between DPS and the SU community. The respondents tapped to build this review said that the residential community safety officers employed by DPS can “easily engage and form relationships of trust with students in the residence halls” they manage since they are already “embedded in the community by virtue of their position and presence.”
“We note that rebuilding trust does not happen overnight and urge both DPS and the University community to commit to the ongoing work, dialogue, and active listening required to improve this important relationship,” the report stated.