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NDPD works with Black students to release report on equitable practices

| Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Notre Dame Police Development (NDPD) released an equity in policing report after receiving requests from students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The report acknowledges NDPD’s role in the criminal justice system and the role law enforcement has played in the “dehumanization, oppression and the infringement of the basic civil and human rights of people in our country.”

Written in collaboration with Black students at the University, the report not only pledged to hold NDPD accountable, but it also detailed a series of new and existing initiatives to prevent systemic racism.

“We must be part of continued conversation and, as the police department entrusted with protecting and serving the Notre Dame community, we must always examine ourselves and take action to be the best we can be for all of Notre Dame,” the report said.

Stand-alone de-escalation training was implemented this year to build upon previous de-escalation polices for enforcement. The training will be required at least every two years.

“Enforcement is a tool that we will use if we must, but we would prefer to engage in problem solving, support, and partnership if these can resolve a situation safely,” the report said.

NDPD also developed a policy to prevent dispatchers from sending officers to calls “based solely on suspicions about a person’s appearance.” Dispatchers are now trained to ask follow-up questions to determine whether there is also suspicious behavior before sending officers.

In addition, the department committed to hiring a more diverse staff by expanding diversity recruitment initiatives.

“We review our candidate pools with a diversity recruiter,” the report said. “We also have an internship program that has been utilized extensively by interns of color, some of whom have been hired into other police departments.”

Following meetings this summer with members of the Diversity Council and other student clubs, NDPD created Unity Summits with the aim of improving relations between students and NDPD staff.

NDPD will continue its training on implicit bias for law enforcement, which all officers are required to participate in every two years in addition to shorter refreshers. Many officers have also undergone training for trauma-informed sexual assault investigations and crisis intervention training. NDPD currently partners with other University offices to provide support and care for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

Officers are not trained to use neck restraints or chokeholds, the report said. NDPD’s response to resistance policy requires officers to use force only when reasonable and to halt the use of force once “their lawful objective is attained.”

“One of the guiding principles of our policy and training is the sanctity of every human life,” the report said. “Our policy also requires any officer who sees excessive use of force taking place to immediately protect the citizen and report the excessive force to a supervisor who shall then inform the Chief.”

According to the report, NDPD used force a total of three times last year, where three of the subjects in the incidents were graduate students and the other three were not affiliated with the University. The instances must be reported when any implement of force including taser, pepper spray or handgun is drawn and verbal commands are given, the report said.

The department also does not own riot gear or weaponry. NDPD does own clear shields and helmets “intended for use in rescuing injured people in an active violence situation;” however, they have never needed to use this equipment.

All NDPD vehicles have cameras that officers must activate for any kind of enforcement action.

“We also have numerous CCTV cameras which are reviewed whenever there is a complaint. All of our Tasers also have cameras built into them that automatically begin recording anytime the Taser is turned on,” the report said.

In addition to their new procedures, NDPD committed to continue working with students, faculty and staff to adapt their policies to serve the Notre Dame community.

“We must continue to provide an environment where students, faculty and staff, and guests and visitors can come and experience all that Our Lady’s University has to offer without fear,” the report said. “We must hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard and we must stand up for those who are unable or feel that they cannot stand for themselves.”

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