First steps in re-envisioned approach to campus safety

To: UCSC Community

From: Cynthia Larive Chancellor; Sarah Latham Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services

Over the past year, our campus community has sought to re-envision its approach to public safety, with the aim of creating a campus policing structure that supports our students, staff and faculty while also helping to create a campus climate where all communities feel welcomed, respected, and protected. Today we share information about a number of the steps our campus is taking, or will be taking soon, in this continuing effort.

As part of this new framework, we are reducing the size of our Police Department from our budgeted 32 sworn officer positions. Based on our current campus population, we believe that we need a minimum of 24 sworn police officers for the safety of our campus community. We will maintain our commitment to rapid emergency response at our residential campus, Coastal Science Campus, and Westside Research Park even with fewer sworn officers. We will share information about opportunities for campus engagement in the officer hiring process when a search is underway.

This change in police staffing requires shifts in responsibility, changes to a range of university functions, and a shared approach to community safety that engages many more people on our campus. The changes we are undertaking are informed by stakeholder feedback at both the campus and system level, and are ongoing. They are also informed by recommendations of the UC Santa Cruz Campus Safety Community Advisory Board and from the UC Office of the President, which earlier this month released the final version of its 2021 UC Community Safety Plan. President Drake has advocated for a tiered public-safety model that involves repurposing existing sworn officer positions to other safety, wellness or social-service roles, and the responsibility adjustments we are implementing align with that tiered response. Each of these changes is considered a pilot program that will require campus engagement and feedback to refine and continue to improve our approach to campus safety.

The steps we are taking are wide-ranging and will take time to implement. The earliest we anticipate most changes occurring is winter quarter 2022, which will provide time for input and refinement. Parking enforcement, for instance, will no longer be handled by campus police but by Transportation and Parking Services. We also expect to implement new models for traffic control as opposed to relying solely on campus police. Officers will continue to be responsible for the enforcement of traffic laws on campus, safeguarding pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists by issuing tickets to motorists who speed or roll through a stop sign, for example.

Campus working groups are currently forming to map out how we can move other functions currently performed by uniformed officers to other units. Among the duties being discussed: security at major campus events and requests for assistance from employees who find themselves locked out of buildings or offices. Part of this work will entail examining how programs such as our Community Safety Officer Program can be expanded or adapted to support these critical needs.

A campus-based “Sobering Station” for intoxicated students is in the works. It will provide students a facility where they feel comfortable seeking help should they need it, and staff there can help ensure students don’t harm themselves or others.

President Drake’s UC Community Safety Plan also calls for a primarily mental-health response to student mental-health crisis situations. A campus workgroup is developing plans to institute this important change by spring quarter 2022.

These are just a handful of the changes being planned in response to systemwide and campus recommendations. All are intended to expand our definition of safety and recognize that multiple units across campus — outside of our campus Police Department — have a role to play in safety and wellness. As a whole, these steps will allow our police to focus on the key elements of safety and protection that they are best suited to support.

These adjustments are not the end of our efforts. We are working diligently to create a public-safety framework that is inclusive of our entire community. Our ultimate goal is a structure that protects and respects our students, staff and faculty.