The IU Police Department established Police Chief Community Advisory Boards at all seven campuses with the intent to build better relationships with IU communities and address concerns, said Jill Lees, IUPD Bloomington chief of police.
The IU Bloomington board had its first meeting Sept. 23, Lees said. The agenda mostly consisted of introductions and a discussion of the board’s mission, objectives, duties and procedures. Lees said the meeting also consisted of a review of the Protect IU website and recent response to resistance data.
The board is made up of multiple campus partners with representatives, Lees said. These representatives are students, staff and faculty.
The IUPD Bloomington Chief Community Campus Partners for 2020-2021 are:
Dean of Students Office
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center
Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs
Black Student Union
Groups Scholars Program
Office of Vice Provost for Diversity & Inclusion
Asian Culture Center
La Casa Latino Cultural Center
Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Phi Alpha Delta
Legal Studies Club
Student Recreational Sports Association
Graduate & Professional Student Government
IU Student Government
Residential Programs and Services
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Lees said a blanket email was sent out to many potential campus partners, including all the campus culture centers, but not all responded. There will be a rotation of partners after a time period, allowing campus organizations that were not originally involved to be on the board, she said.
The meetings will occur every month. The ultimate goal is to create relationships with campus communities, which includes being transparent, addressing concerns and promoting community policies, she said.
Lees said some representatives asked for Michael Diekhoff, the Bloomington Police Department chief of police, to attend a meeting because many students live off campus, outside IUPD’s domain. She said she plans to have Diekhoff as a meeting guest in November.
Ky Freeman, an IU junior and president of the Black Student Union, said he feels the board was born through conversations he had with Chief Lees and Wayne James, the IUPD assistant vice president and deputy superintendent for law enforcement operations, diversity and community engagement, over the summer. Freeman said he met with Lees and James to discuss the strained relationships students would have with campus police when coming back to campus and how IUPD could be more transparent. Freeman now represents BSU on the board.
“Given our national climate, is there a lot of mistrust with police? Absolutely,” he said. “Is it vindicated? Absolutely, but the radical idea for us right now is to truly understand one another.”
There is always room for improvement, Freeman said. He said he feels this board provides an opportunity for students to be involved in the conversation and for members of the community to address inequities on the inside. He said he hopes for longevity and the conversation does not stop when public outcry stops.
“I think as we continue with this advisory board, we’ll be able to go through some difficult conversations, talk about some very difficult things that the students have called for, and just be provided a little bit more perspective on what’s going on within that system and how we truly can navigate it,” he said.
Freeman said he does not have an opinion on the board yet given the formal introduction nature of the first meeting.
Lees said she hopes participants receive a better understanding of what IUPD does and what IUPD is about in regards to training, mission, policies, procedures and more.
“We all come to this university with a different perspective of law enforcement,” she said. “We all have that kind of opinion of law enforcement that people would assume that IUPD is based on their own personal experiences, but my goal is to make everyone on the same page of what we’re doing.”
Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa Latino Cultural Center, said she received the invitation to join the board through email. She responded and was accepted onto the board. She said she joined the board in hopes to create a supportive campus community and relationship with IUPD Bloomington.
“It’s important that La Casa is involved in partnership to make sure both ends are supporting each other,” Casillas said.
Casillas said she thought the first meeting went well. She said she thinks Chief Lees wants input and dialogue from organizations on campus. Casillas said she does think the board will help in creating a community to hear what other people have to say.
“I have no reason to believe otherwise,” she said. “I start everything on a positive note.”
John Wang, the self-titled student chef of the Asian Culture Center and IU junior, said he decided to get involved with the board after Lees came to a meeting at the ACC.
Wang said his expectations for the board are for it to be a place where he can share his cultural identity, discuss it with others and get an idea of how IUPD Bloomington works alongside the community. He said he does have a general concern about racism he wants to address with the board in the future.
“Racism is always just an ongoing issue,” he said. “I feel like this board is a really good opportunity for all of the different groups on campus to kind of voice their opinions and concerns and I feel like this will be a good way for IUPD to kind of know what the cultural environment on campus is.”
Wang said his expectations have not been met so far because there has been only one meeting so far, which was mostly introductory.
“I’m sure that as we meet more and more and start talking about the concerns from each person or each member of the board, it will definitely be successful and meet my expectations, at least,” Wang said.