New task force to reevaluate safety measures at CSU

Noah Pasley

Joyce McConnell convened a new task force, according to a universitywide email sent Thursday night. The announcement follows mounting pressure for police reform in Colorado and nationwide

According to the email, the Task Force on Campus, Community and Personal Safety will make recommendations on changes at Colorado State University regarding humanitarian policing, personal safety and security and campus climate.

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According to McConnell’s email, the task force will include representation from CSUPD and leaders from Academic and Student Affairs. Faculty from relevant subject matters and the Office of Equal Opportunity will also be represented, as well as the offices of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

Members will be announced and appointed by July 1, with the task force convening as soon as early July, according to the email. The task force will also issue a preliminary report on priorities by August 14.

The email also links to a statement from CSUPD on how their policies align with the #8cantwait campaign, which details measures that police agencies should adopt to prevent use of excessive force. Some of the policies outlined in the statement are usage of body cams while on patrol, a use-of-force continuum and crisis intervention certification.

“CSUPD’s ongoing training efforts focus on this certification for newly hired officers with the expectation that they will attend and complete this course during their first three years with our agency,” the statement read. “We continue to striving for 100% of all sworn officers certified in these skills through a recognized training program as soon as possible.”

The task force announcement comes after international protests for the #BlackLivesMatter movement and increasing focus on police reform nationwide. At the CSU Board of Governors meeting June 5, several members of the CSU community asked questions about defunding CSUPD, looking into restorative justice alternatives to policing and police accountability in the Fort Collins area. 

Elizabeth Ballinger-Dix, a CSU student in the College of Natural Sciences, asked the board if CSU had considered measures such as hiring unarmed and trained community mediators to handle conflict or safety threats. Ballinger-Dix also asked if CSU had considered or held a discussion about the historical role of police as slave catchers and the influence it has on modern-day policing.

While recent demonstrations in Fort Collins have likely prompted CSU President McConnell’s decision, protests and petitions have also incited action across Colorado, as Gov. Jared Polis signed a police accountability bill last Friday.

Thursday, Polis announced that he had appointed Attorney General Phil Weiser as a special prosecutor to investigate the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man that died after a violent encounter with Aurora, Colorado, police on August 24, 2019.

According to the New York Times, police used a chokehold that was recently banned during the encounter, and paramedics administered a dose of ketamine, a powerful sedative. McClain went into cardiac arrest on the way to a hospital and died a few days later.

A petition to hold an in-depth investigation into McClain’s death recently garnered more than 3.3 million signatures on change.org, and a GoFundMe page set up by Sheneen McClain, Elijah’s mother, has received more than 1.7 million in donations.

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A peaceful protest for Elijah McClain and the Black Lives Matter movement is set to take place Saturday afternoon at the Aurora Municipal Center at 15151 E. Alameda Parkway, according to the Instagram page @justiceforelijahmcclain

Noah Pasley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PasleyNoah.