Campus News

UWPD chief responds to lack of student comfort in police

UWPD Chief Kristen Roman posted a blog post Monday addressing student concerns surrounding contacting UWPD.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

Just over two weeks after a campus climate survey revealed that marginalized groups feel less comfortable than majority students contacting the University of Wisconsin Police Department about issues on campus, UWPD Chief Kristen Roman responded to the concerns.

In her latest “Chief’s Corner” blog post, Roman called the survey results “disheartening” but reaffirmed UWPD’s commitment to serving students from all backgrounds.

Survey results showed that 56 percent of white students feel comfortable contacting UWPD if they have a problem. The same is true for only 38 percent for LGBTQ students, 45 percent for students with disabilities, 38 percent for students of color and 24 percent for trans/non-binary students.

Roman said these results reveal “trust challenges” facing not only UWPD, but also police departments across the country. She said that there is a complex relationship between police and marginalized groups.

“UWPD is committed to serving all members of our campus community,” Roman said in the post. “I am deeply concerned about any reported community reluctance to reach out to police for assistance.”

Additionally, Roman emphasized that these issues on campus cannot be solved by UWPD alone. She said the campus community must work together to positively impact the campus climate and “build trust” in those who are reluctant to contact police.

“I understand that there are many social and political obstacles in place that inhibit/prevent certain individuals or groups from officially reporting problems to police and that many of these are beyond the ability of the police alone to eliminate,” Roman said in the post.

In response to the survey, Roman said UWPD is working to eliminate comfort barriers for all students. According to Roman, this will be achieved through reinforcing existing UWPD standards and procedures, as well as facilitating conversations about campus issues.

UWPD will host its first community forum to engage students in conversations about campus climate and safety Nov. 27 at 4 p.m. in the Marquee Theater.

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