Ivy on Rosenwald. (Photography by Connie Ma, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Shared objectives

University of Chicago Police takes steps to enhance transparency and public access to information.

After an extensive process that included discussions with local residents, elected officials, and stakeholders across campus, the University is taking significant steps to enhance the transparency of the activities of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD). The University also will streamline online access to law enforcement information that is already public.

The changes go beyond the requirements of Illinois law for police forces at private institutions. As of June 2015, the UCPD will post details about all traffic stops and field contacts the UCPD performs. The daily online updates will include the date, time, location, reason for the stop, disposition, whether a search was conducted, and the race and gender of the person stopped.

In addition, the UCPD will make details available upon request from records of arrests made by UCPD officers. The University’s Safety and Security website will provide easier access to UCPD information that has been available but was not collected in one place online. The site also will have additional background information about how the department fulfills its duties.

“Public safety requires effective partnerships among community members and the police,” said Derek R. B. Douglas, vice president for civic engagement. “Meetings with community members and public officials helped lead to a reevaluation of how we share information. We are grateful for their help and look forward to continued conversations with our neighbors about a wide range of safety issues.”

Douglas said that in addition to the planned changes, the University will explore additional opportunities for the community to communicate directly with the UCPD. In collaboration with a range of stakeholders, the University will strive to build a model of engagement for private university police departments sharing information with the communities they serve.

“The University of Chicago is committed to working closely with members of our communities to maintain safety and foster an atmosphere of trust,” said Marlon C. Lynch, associate vice president for safety, security, and civic affairs, and chief of police. “The University decided to go beyond the law’s requirements in order to encourage dialogue and feedback that will allow us to serve the community most effectively.”

Many individuals and groups have offered constructive ideas related to the policy changes, including Illinois state representatives Barbara Flynn Currie, LAB’58, AB’68, AM’73, and Christian Mitchell, AB’08, and local aldermen Will Burns, AB’95, AM’98 (4th Ward); Willie B. Cochran (20th Ward); Pat Dowell, AM’80 (3rd Ward); and Leslie Hairston, LAB’79 (5th Ward). Input from the broader community on the South Side played an important role. At UChicago, the Campaign for Equitable Policing, leaders in Student Government, and faculty members worked with the UCPD to help move the discussion forward.

The University already provides information on UCPD activities through a variety of channels. On- and off-campus incidents reported to UCPD are compiled into a daily crime and fire log and are posted on the UCPD website. The site also provides summaries of individual complaints made against UCPD officers and includes the analyses and recommendations of the University’s Independent Review Committee concerning those complaints. In addition, UCPD reports traffic stop information to the Illinois Department of Transportation; aggregate traffic stop information is available on the IDOT website. Because the Chicago Police Department is the investigative agency for criminal incidents that occur off campus, those reports are available from the CPD upon request.

Although such information is publicly available, it is not always easy to access. New web pages on the UCPD site will gather more of this information in one place, along with other supporting material:

  • The University will provide and publicize additional background information related to current UCPD practices, including the statutes that serve as the legal basis for UCPD’s authority; the responsibilities of the department; a description of UCPD officer training; and information on how the UCPD operates in conjunction with CPD.
  • The University will provide more specific information regarding traffic stops and field contacts, outside of the aggregate information provided by IDOT. This information will be updated daily and will include the date, time, location, reason for the stop, disposition, whether a search was conducted, and the race and gender of the individual.
  • The University will provide upon request arrest record information, similar to the information provided by public law enforcement agencies. Specifically, the information disclosed will include identifying information of the arrestee (such as name, age, address, and photograph); arrest charges; time and location of the arrest; name of the investigating or arresting law enforcement agency; amount of bail or bond; and details on incarceration.
  • The University will develop a list of frequently asked questions and responses compiled from extensive conversations with both the University community and neighboring communities. The University will seek feedback on the FAQs from community groups.

The UCPD is a professionally trained police department with approximately 100 state-certified officers, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The areas served by the UCPD extend from 37th to 64th Streets, and are bounded by Lake Shore Drive on the east and Cottage Grove Avenue on the west, excluding Jackson Park.

The UCPD’s jurisdiction has developed in response to community needs and requests from community leaders for the University to play a role in public safety and other issues of concern to residents. The City of Chicago expanded the UCPD’s patrol area at the request of the community and University. More information on services provided by the UCPD is available at safety-security.uchicago.edu.