Northwestern’s Community Safety Advisory Board recommended that the university send licensed counselors and unarmed civilian staff to deal with the majority of safety and mental health situations on campus in an email Friday.
Armed personnel like the NUPD should only be dispatched when absolutely necessary, the board concluded.
New mental health initiatives included building a team of three to five trained mental health counselors who can intervene in crises, especially with students. This will almost always remove campus safety from direct involvement in a mental health crisis situation, the email said. The university plans to allocate an additional $ 300,000 to $ 500,000 to hire and implement this team, according to the email.
The council was created in the fall of 2020 to rethink campus policing and advise University leaders on the safety and well-being of the community. It was formed in response to requests from student organizers to remove police from campus.
Undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, staff, alumni and faculty make up the Board of Trustees, which is co-chaired by Professor Feinberg Clyde Yancy and the Vice-Chancellor of Diversity and including Robin Means Coleman.
The board urged all students and staff to confidentially provide their thoughts on its progress and current findings in the email. The board encouraged community members to complete the feedback form by Friday, October 15.
In the winter of 2021, the board investigated the results of an external review of the Ministry of Safety and Security. He then spent the spring in four groups discussing campus security issues and developing concrete recommendations.
The University has already started to implement the recommendations of the council. The email, which detailed the new changes, highlighted four main categories: mental health, safety and security, complaint handling, and racial identifiers in crime notices.
The safety and security updates focused primarily on the transition to unarmed civilian leadership responses to campus security issues. The council will also take a more holistic approach to safety, encompassing not only physical well-being, but also environmental safety such as fire prevention and indoor air quality.
The email also said that safety and security complaints would now be referred to University Compliance, a non-police-led review committee, rather than the University’s safety and security department. Campus crime notices are also shifting to the sparing use of racial identifiers as a result of council recommendations.
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