Updates on Implementation of 21CP’s Recommendations for Drexel Public Safety
June 7, 2022
Dear Students and Colleagues,
As part of our commitment to build a university community where everyone feels safe, supported and welcome, Drexel University is taking several steps to help us reimagine public safety as well as enhance public safety operations, informed in part by the recommendations 21CP Solutions made in its review of the Drexel University Police Department. This work is focused on three major areas described in more detail below – transparency, training, and community oversight — and is aligned to the University’s shared values of integrity, inclusion, impact, integration and innovation. Every member of the Drexel community has a role to play in these efforts, and we continue to invite you to share any feedback you might have along the way.
But first, we want to provide a brief update on Drexel Public Safety’s leadership transition. Vice President and Chief of Police Eileen Behr is retiring from law enforcement on June 30 after over four decades of service. Over the course of her career, Eileen has accomplished many “firsts,” including being the first woman to serve as police chief and first woman to serve as sheriff in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and the first woman to lead Drexel Public Safety (DPS).
In her eight years at Drexel, Eileen has forged successful partnerships and relationships across the University and in the community to work collaboratively toward the shared goal of providing a safe and secure environment in which to live, learn, work and socialize. Over the past year, Eileen and her team at DPS, working with other partners both internal and external to Drexel, have been following up on many of the recommendations made in the 21CP report, as noted below. We are extremely grateful to Eileen for her dedicated service to Drexel and her leadership, and we wish her well in this next chapter.
As we prepare to launch a search for Eileen’s successor, we are taking this opportunity to review the position structure and assemble a committee that will lead the search.
Open communication and mutual understanding between DPS and other members of the campus community foster a safer, more inclusive environment for all. We are taking the following steps to enhance transparency and communications related to public safety:
- Body-Worn Cameras: DPS has procured body-worn cameras for the Drexel University Police Department (DUPD) and expects to have the equipment by late June. Cameras can help increase trust between police and the communities they serve, facilitate accountability, and provide information for evidence and/or training. A policy on the use of the cameras is being developed by the Office of the General Counsel, officers are expected to be trained in early July, and the cameras are expected to be in use by the end of that month. DPS will launch a public education campaign before the program goes live.
- Data Collection: DPS is actively improving its data collection tools and practices to provide a more accurate picture of who comes into contact with DUPD officers and the nature of such incidents, including bias data for stops and investigations. Additional data fields have been added to the systems DPS uses for data collection, and staff are currently being trained on how to properly collect and record this information.
- Crime and Workload Data Dashboard: Work is underway to enhance the display of crime statistics and DPS workload data on the Drexel Public Safety website. These user-friendly enhancements will provide a better understanding of safety in our community and the work DPS does. Data reporting is subject to a variety of regulatory guidelines, but we are committed to ensuring transparency as much as possible. We plan to launch this new dashboard by the fall term.
- Community Outreach: DPS added a third member to its Community Relations team last year: Sergeant Fernando Santiago, who joined Officers Tom Cirone and Kim McClay. As more people returned to campus in fall 2021, DPS added a monthly “Cocoa With Cops” meet-and-greet event outside DUPD headquarters, increased the number of “Your Safety Is Our Goal” workshops it offered, and launched a new, gender-inclusive self-defense program called SAFE. These programs and more are detailed in the monthly Public Safety & U newsletter distributed via DrexelNow. If you would like to learn more about how to engage with DPS, please contact Linda Moran at email@example.com.
Drexel University’s Police Department and Public Safety Communications Center were both re-accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) last year, and through that process, many of their policies, procedures and trainings were reviewed and enhanced. Over the past year, DUPD has undergone a number of trainings to help address potential biases in enforcement activities, deepen understanding of Drexel’s diverse communities, and better prepare officers for handling situations involving mental health issues.
- Anti-Bias: Last spring, all DPS employees completed two online diversity, equity and inclusion trainings provided by Drexel: “Recognizing & Mitigating Implicit Bias” and “Defining Drexel’s Culture of Inclusion and Belonging.” In the fall, DUPD officers completed an online certificate course called “Anti-Bias Training for Law Enforcement,” a training on autism awareness, and a film viewing and discussion focused on the historical context of racial discrimination on college campuses. Such annual trainings are aided and informed by partnerships with the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Office of Counseling and Health Services, Office of Equity and Inclusive Culture (EIC), and external organizations. DPS is working closely with OED to identify any gaps in bias training and determine how best to address them.
- Mental Health Awareness: DUPD has been actively addressing the need for more training and education on what to do when officers respond to situations where mental or behavioral health issues are involved. Over the past several months, Drexel police officers and dispatchers have been attending the Philadelphia Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Training. With the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, DUPD officers are also taking an intensive, five-day course in trauma-informed interviewing conducted by certified training officers from the Philadelphia Police Department and local behavioral health clinicians. More than half of DUPD’s sworn officers have completed this training to date.
- Use of Force: Drexel’s Use of Force policies were reviewed in detail by internal and external legal experts and revised in 2020 to conform to guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Justice, the City of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers Training Commission. Updates included adding language to require all DPS employees (including dispatchers and all civilian employees) to intervene when observing any excessive force or unethical police actions. In addition to several Use of Force trainings held throughout the year for DUPD officers, the team was trained on the new policy in 2021 by Pennsylvania state-certified police instructors and by Safariland Training Group. Any reported Use of Force incidents involving DPS employees will be reviewed by the newly formed DPS Oversight Committee.
The newly established Drexel Public Safety Oversight Committee (DPSOC) will help to improve public safety communication and programs across the campus and in our neighborhoods. The committee is now being co-chaired by Daniel Filler, dean and professor of law at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law; Marla Gold, senior vice provost and chief wellness officer, who is also leading the implementation of community outreach-based recommendations from 21CP; and Leon McCrea II, associate professor and senior associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion at the College of Medicine. There are still some membership slots open on the committee, and the co-chairs are inviting Drexel community members to submit self-nominations to be considered for this role. You can view the committee’s charge, responsibilities and a list of current members on the DPSOC website.
The DPSOC is designed to give voice to all members of the campus community and add yet another avenue for transparent communication with our many stakeholders. Current members of the committee have already begun meeting and receiving briefings from Drexel Public Safety.
Please know you can always share feedback directly with Public Safety by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or submitting a complaint form or commendation. If you wish to share feedback with the Public Safety Oversight Committee, you can email email@example.com. And if you wish to ask questions or report allegations of suspected improper conduct in a confidential setting, you can use the Drexel Compliance Hotline, hosted by a third-party provider called EthicsPoint.
Drexel Public Safety remains deeply committed to its mission to equitably enrich the quality of life of all members of the Drexel community by providing a safe and secure environment through effective relationships, excellence in service and adherence to the highest professional and ethical standards. Everyone has a role to play in building and supporting a safer, more inclusive University community. We look forward to our continued work together with the entire Drexel community.
Helen Y. Bowman
Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer
Marla J. Gold
Chief Wellness Officer
Senior Vice Provost for Community Health