Loretta Lynch Report Recommendations – Status Updates

On February 22, 2021, The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch submitted the “Report of Independent Counsel to Syracuse University Regarding the Department of Public Safety” to the Syracuse University community regarding the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The report offered three sets of recommendations:

  • general recommendations regarding department of public safety operations;
  • recommended amendments to DPS Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and;
  • recommendations regarding the formation, operation, and management of a Public Safety Community Review Board

The purpose of this webpage is to track the implementation status  of the recommendations.  Thirty day short term actions and resolutions are to be completed by April 4, 2021, 60 to 90 day midterm actions and resolutions are to be completed by June 4, 2021 and finally, 90 day and beyond, long term actions and resolutions are to be completed within the next 12 months.

I. Community Policing

Once the pandemic ends, DPS should reinstate previously existing programs aimed at community engagement. In particular, these programs should prioritize long-term relationship-building initiatives, such as the historical adopt-a-hall program in which an officer partners with a residence hall, attends floor meetings, presents on crime prevention, and has the opportunity to speak with and hear from students about public safety, over episodic and sporadic types of engagement. We also urge DPS to think creatively about new programs that encourage interactions between DPS and the community outside of the enforcement context. That said, community engagement is only one part of community policing, and programs like these are necessary but not sufficient for DPS to become a community policing organization at the highest level.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Short term - Due: April 1, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will become more present and visible inside residence halls which will include Community Oriented Policing (COP) details and adopt-a-hall check-ins. Due to COVID, DPS will limit student interaction but rather have more of a visible and approachable presence. Special attention will be made to identify Office of Student Life (OSL) staff and officers will introduce themselves.
  2. Midterm - Due: June 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will utilize additional office space on campus, outside of the main office in Sims Hall, for students to drop in to share their questions and concerns. DPS will also schedule events including a meet and greet luncheon, presence at athletic events, ride-a-longs with both DPS and SUA, ropes course event, etc., to engage various groups across campus.
  3. Long term - Due: Jan. 1, 2022 Status: In Progress
    DPS will fully engage in implementation of these and other initiatives that will net a community policing environment, improve levels of trust and familiarity between patrol officers, OSL staff, and students. DPS leadership will hold annual public events regarding the strengths of various communities on campus, anti-bias initiatives, and an update regarding any bias related incidents/investigations.

Updates:

April 2020

  • DPS Officers are engaging in community orientated policing details and adopt-a-hall check ins; specifically engaging with the Office of Student Living staff members.

May 2020

  • DPS Leadership has been working with the Office of Student Living to secure a location on South Campus for students to drop in and share their questions and concerns. The space has been identified and will be ready for the start of the Fall 2021 semester.
  • Logistics and planning has begun for the events planned to engage various groups across campus.

We recommend that DPS consider reviving the Student of Color Advisory Committee. The Committee, which originated in 2019, does not appear to have succeeded at improving the relationship between DPS and students of color, largely because students did not feel that DPS was responsive to the concerns they raised. We nonetheless believe that the reconstitution of the Committee could present a valuable forum in which students of color and DPS could engage in meaningful exchanges. While we have made other recommendations intended to increase DPS’s accountability to the campus community, this Committee would represent a channel through which students of color and DPS officers could establish and maintain open lines of communication. We suggest that the Committee meet regularly and participate in activities designed to stimulate the exchange of views, such as inviting students to attend a course or meet new officers at the DPS Campus Peace Officer Academy. We further suggest that DPS consult the Committee when sensitive or challenging issues relating to public safety arise on campus, as well as at regularly scheduled meetings. Given that DPS will have a new chief beginning in the next academic year, the restoration of this Committee presents an opportunity for the new chief to partner with the community. DPS should also consider whether it would be helpful to have additional command staff attend meetings to hear from students of color directly about their experiences with DPS officers and to better understand their concerns.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Long term - Due: Aug. 1, 2021 Status: In Progress
    In anticipation of the new Department of Public Safety Chief starting on July 1, 2021, the current Chief will prepare for transitioning the management of this committee to the new Chief, as suggested in the Lynch report. The transition will include meeting with the new Chief and providing historical information relevant to the committee, including the committee’s charge, make up, successes and areas of development needed. This meeting will be initiated as soon as possible after the new Chief has been identified on July 1, 2021.

DPS should make public all policies and procedures on its website, as it has done with the Use of Force Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), unless doing so poses a direct threat to officer or public safety. Posting these policies creates greater transparency and opportunities for dialogue with and feedback from the community, all of which builds trust.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Short term - Due: Feb. 26, 2021 Status: Completed
    In collaboration with the Office of General Counsel, a review committee will identify SOPs with high level security sensitivity that are inappropriate to publish to the DPS website.
  2. Midterm - Due: April 2, 2021Status: Completed
    DPS will post at least 50% of approved non-security sensitive SOPs to the DPS website. The DPS duty manual (SOP 2006-12) will be updated consistent with recommendations from the Lynch report and posted when completed.
  3. Long term - Due: July 1, 2021 Status: Completed
    Final 50% of approved non-security sensitive SOPs will be posted to the DPS website.

Updates:

April 2020

  • Policies and procedures page has been created on the DPS website.
  • 59 DPS policies and procedures have been posted to the above page.

June 2020

  • Standard Operations Procedures are posted on the DPS website.

II. Communications

DPS should work with the University communications team to streamline the process of issuing communications about public safety to campus. The number of people whose approval was required to issue a communication about the bias-related incidents resulted in communications that were not timely. Relatedly, DPS and the communications team should coordinate and strategize about how not only to convey the necessary facts surrounding an incident, but also to address the underlying issues and concerns felt by students. The fact that the University has one of the best communications schools in the country presents an opportunity for synergy.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Midterm - Due: May 1, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS leadership will meet and collaborate with the University’s Division of Communications team to streamline the process of issuing communications related to public safety on campus. The result should be fewer individuals required to approve communications related to bias- related incidents, and the establishment of a well-defined policy on the release of said incidents.
  2. Long term - Due: Aug. 15, 2021 Status: In Progress
    Published well defined policy will be promulgated regarding this issue.

Updates:

May 2021

  • DPS leadership and leadership from the Division of Communications met to discuss communications processes and started to develop policy

Relatedly, DPS should also develop greater expertise and strategies for using social media in its communications with the community and to students, in particular. Social media is the means by which this generation of students is most comfortable receiving information, so DPS should meet them there.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Short term - Due: March 5, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS currently utilizes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and RAVE Guardian apps. DPS will continue to promote the new RAVE Guardian app (launched Feb. 15, 2021) and all social media channels via electronic marketing tools. DPS will continue to engage existing student employees to assist building content for apps and channels.
  2. Midterm - Due: June 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    Strategize with DPS officers and students on how to better connect. Work with graduate student association on installing/replacing social media and crime prevention messaging signage in east neighborhood and generate other unique ideas on how to engage with students.
  3. Long term - Due: i. Aug, 1, 2021 & ii. Jan. 15, 2022 Status: In Progress
    1. DPS will hire a social media specialist position in fiscal year 2022 so that full effort can be focused on engagement with the community, specifically as a preferred connection methods with students.
    2. Additionally, at least three DPS officers will be identified and receive training to develop the skills to engage with the community on social media via officer take over days.

Updates:

April 2021

  • Student employees are assisting with content creation for the DPS social media channels.
  • Working with various stakeholders on campus to update LiveSafe information with Rave Guardian.

May 2021

  • DPS is planning on setting up a meeting with the newly elected President of the Graduate Student Association.
  • Upon hiring the social media specialist, they will be charged with collaborating with students and officers on how to better connect.

July 2021

  • New signs for the off-campus neighborhoods are on order and will be installed before the start of the Fall 2021 semester.
  • DPS leadership met with GSO President and will continue to hold meetings in the future.
  • Recruitment for the social media specialist has begun.

Housing materials provided to students at the beginning of each semester, including those students who live off-campus, should include information on the respective jurisdictions of DPS and SPD. Although this information is already available on the DPS website, students do not seem to have a clear understanding of it.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Long term - Due: Aug. 1, 2021 Status: In Progress
    DPS will update the DPS campus safety brochure to include information about the jurisdictions of DPS and SPD along with other important safety related contacts and tips.

III. Complaints and Accountability

Without compromising the confidentiality of DPS IA processes set forth in SOP 2010-07 or any legal protections, DPS should consistently provide an update of some form to a complainant about the progress and disposition of their complaint (whether it is addressed through the IA process or otherwise). Indeed, the SOP governing IA requires that complainants receive periodic updates and a notification regarding the decision whether the complaint has been sustained. The investigative file should track these notifications to ensure compliance.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Short term - Due: March 2, 2021 Status: Completed
    Create a process to fully document each complainant update. In addition to the documentation of complainant updates within the IA file, add a column to the IA log to maintain this information and conclusion/outcome notifications to complainant.

Updates:

April 2021

  • Established process to fully document each Internal Affairs complaint; including adding a column to the IA log.

While the DPS website already makes clear how to file a Citizen Complaint Form and what to expect from the complaint review process, the website should also set forth how to appeal a finding to the CRB, once it has been constituted.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Long term - Due: June 4, 2021 Status: In Progress
    Once the Community Review Board (CRB) has been established, DPS will add the appeal process to the DPS website, clearly outlining how someone would go through the appeal process according to the bylaws and procedures for CRB, and a link to a CRB website will be included.

Updates:

  • Completion of this recommendation is dependent on the establishment of the CRB, which is currently in progress through the University’s Office of the Chief Diversity Officer and the Office of the Chief Human Resource Officer.

DPS leadership, in particular the new Lieutenant of Investigations, should make every effort to ensure that officers are fully complying with DPS’s very comprehensive SOP governing the investigation of bias-related incidents and hate crimes.

DPS Resolution:

  1. Short term - Due: April 1, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will create checklists that highlight the expectations of the responding/investigating officer, the patrol supervisor and the investigations unit for bias related incidents.
  2. Midterm - Due: June 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will begin to implement these checklists and to periodically “check their work” to ensure that all levels are complying with these expectations.
  3. Long term - Due: Jan. 15, 2022 Status: In Progress
    DPS will institutionalize the new set of guidelines and perform periodic reviews of the guidelines that have been added to the SOP’s for these incidents. DPS will include follow-up training as part of regular in-service annual training.

Updates:

April 2021

  • Checklists have been approved by leadership and are currently in use.

We recommend adopting the suggestion of Chief Maldonado that DPS adopt the use of the term “hate incidents” to refer to bias-motivated incidents that, for one reason or another, cannot be characterized as hate crimes. Additionally, DPS officers should receive sufficient training to identify what might be a hate crime so that they can conduct a proper and thorough preliminary investigation and notify the necessary authority. DPS should also make publicly available an explanation of the investigative process for hate crimes, including the limits of its authority when it comes to arrest for and prosecution of hate crimes.

DPS Resolution: 

  1. Short term - Due: April 1, 2021 Status: Completed
    Definitions and information will be created for posting to the DPS website.
  2. Midterm - Due: June 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will formalize a system of recurring annual training on hate crimes and hate incidents for DPS staff.
  3. Long term - Due: Jan. 1, 2022 Status: Completed
    DPS will provided annual in-service training prior to students returning for the fall 2021 semester. Training will include all elements and the definition of a hate crime, terminology, and proper investigative steps needed up to conclusion.

Updates: 

April 2021

  • SOP has been updated, approved and released for DPS staff review.
  • DPS staff in-service training has been scheduled for June 14, 16 and 17 and will include all elements and the definition of a hate crime, terminology, and proper investigative steps needed up to conclusion.
  • Training will be provided annual to DPS staff about hate incidents.

V. Hiring, the Academy, and Ongoing Training and Performance

DPS officers should receive training in procedural justice, victim and witness engagement (including trauma-informed policing), and anti-bias or implicit bias training on a regular basis as part of their continuing professional development. These trainings should also address the tone of interactions with students from different backgrounds. 

DPS Resolution:

  1. Short term - Due: April 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will identify a qualified procedural justice trainer that can assist with presentations at DPS. DPS will also research procedural justice and trauma informed policing train-the-trainer programs to increase the number of certified DPS trainers and certify two current trainers as crisis intervention trainers.
  2. Long term - Due: Jan. 1, 2022 Status: In Progress
    1. Training officers will attend a train-the-trainer program on procedural justice, victim and witness engagement (including trauma-informed policing).
    2. DPS will include these training modules in the academy and annual in-service training and utilize the instructors to provide in-service and academy instruction on principled policing, procedural justice, and trauma informed policing (to include victim/witness services, implicit bias and anti-bias training).
    3. DPS will invite an implicit bias/anti-bias, and/or a diversity, inclusion and equity and/or diversity and inclusion expert to provide annual in-service training. The training process will include an application of knowledge / application of learning and insights process through case scenario discussion, testing, and supervisory observation / BWC review.

Updates:

April 2021

  • DPS has scheduled training on procedural justice, principled policing and victims of trauma-informed policing at annual in-service on June 14, 16 and 17.

We give credit to DPS for evaluating its Public Safety Officers on responsibilities including “ensuring departmental standards for community policing are met,” and “[e]ngages in community-oriented policing, interacting with students, faculty, staff, visitors and members of the public” on officers’ Performance Partnership evaluation forms. We recommend adding for evaluation elements of community policing other than community engagement, such as problem solving and procedural justice. 

DPS Resolution: 

  1. Short term - Due: April 1, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will review/revise DPS SOP 2011-12 Performance Evaluation System.
  2. Midterm - Due: June 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will work with Human Resources to revise officer job descriptions and performance review templates to be ready for next years (2022) review process with updated assessment information pertaining to the sub-topics of community engagement to include problem solving and procedural justice.
  3. Long Term - Due: Aug. 15, 2021 Status: In Progress
    DPS will provide training to employees regarding the updated assessment information for future performance reviews during annual evaluations.

Updates 

April 2021

  • DPS SOP 2011-12 Performance Evaluation System has been revised and is going through the approval process.

May 2021

  • Performance review templates have been updated and are ready for use for the next performance review period.
  • DPS has been working with the Office of Human Resources (HR) to get the officer job descriptions and performance review templates updated in the HR system.

VI. Addressing Campus Protests

When evaluating a response to speech activity, DPS and the administration should, as a general matter, begin with the lowest level of exertion of authority or force: Non-sworn officers—CSOs or otherwise—may be sufficient to facilitate speech events in the first instance. In the event of escalation, sworn officers in soft uniforms can respond, but the immediate response to speech activity does not require and should not include armed officers, barring some specific concern. 

DPS Resolution:

  1. Short term - Due: March 2, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS collaborated with the Student Activism Engagement Team (SAET) leadership and SAET is now responsible for responding to these events. Stadium event staff (“yellow-coat” security) will be deployed to assist the SAET and ESE for any sit-in activity.
  2. Long term - Due: Aug. 15, 2021 Status: In Progress
    DPS SOP on protests and disturbances will be completely amended.

Updates: 

April 2021

  • DPS will no longer assign plain clothes officers to demonstrations/protests.

VII. Operations 

DPS should implement a third-party law enforcement technology program accessible via DPS’s website that tracks, for example, crime statistics and officer call reports. These platforms present data regarding dispatch calls and officer activity in an objective manner. Further, the data should not be posted on a page on the DPS website exclusively but should be provided to the campus community via other communication channels, such as social media. 

DPS Resolution: 

  1. Short term - Due: April 4, 2021 Status: Complete
    In partnership with the Central New York Crime Analysis Center (CNYCAC) an incident and crime data report will be generated for the chief’s review to determine appropriate public posting.
  2. Midterm - Due: June 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will implement a process to post appropriate crime and incident data to the DPS website daily.
  3. Long term - Due: Jan. 15, 2022 Status: In Progress
    DPS will implement an automated process for posting crime and incident data. Data will be made available to distribute via DPS social media.

Updates: 

April 2021

  • A report has been generated and is in the process of being reviewed.

May 2021

  • The project team has been established to develop the technical requirements for posting to the DPS website.

DPS should not operate the campus safety escort service. The service does not require public safety expertise and is the source of a notable number of the negative interactions between students and DPS. 

DPS Resolution: 

  1. Short term - Due: April 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will meet and collaborate with Auxiliary Services, Parking and Transportation Services (PTS), to plan for the transfer of the campus safety escort service, from DPS to PTS.
  2. Long term - Due: July 1, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS will complete the successful transfer of the campus safety escort service to PTS, including staff, vehicles and equipment.

Updates 

April 2021

  • DPS has met with Auxiliary Services and Parking and Transit Services to plan the transfer of the campus escort service.

June 2021

  • Effective July 1, Parking and Transportation Services staff and drivers will assume responsibility and oversight of the University’s Safety Escort Shuttle Services program. Safety escort shuttles can be requested by calling 315.443.7433 (RIDE). More information can be found at parking.syr.edu.

DPS should consider whether there are certain types of calls that do not require a response from an armed peace officer. For example, CSOs might be equipped to respond to lock-out requests or certain other routine calls from dormitories. 

DPS Resolution: 

  1. Short term - Due: April 4, 2021 Status: Completed
    DPS leadership will prepare to hire uniformed unarmed community service officers to respond to calls that do not require a law enforcement officer.
  2. Midterm - Due: June 4, 2021 Status: In Progress - Continuing
    The Graduate Student Organization, the Student Association and DPS Students of Color Advisory Committee will be consulted for input and recommendations regarding CSO and other non-law enforcement staff responses to certain calls.
  3. Long term - Due: Aug. 15, 2021 Status: In Progress
    CSOs hired and begin training.

Updates 

April 2021

  • DPS has a complied a list of types of incidents that are practical for CSO's to respond to instead of Peace Officers. List is being reviewed by leadership and will be further shared with other key stakeholders in the future.

May 2021

  • Work will continue once the newly appointed Chief arrives; allowing for the Chief to meet with and have discussions with the students.