A.S. hosts special meeting to discuss consulting firm’s findings on CSUN police department

CSUN+police+vehicles+on+campus+in+Northridge%2C+Calif.

Sam Landau

CSUN police vehicles on campus in Northridge, Calif.

Vince Vitela, Reporter

PMJ Consulting presented their findings to CSUN’s Associated Students on campus police practices and ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within the department of police services on March 7. The consulting firm identified that students felt a disconnect with campus police and found that the department currently has no positions that specialize in improving representation and equity.

The consulting firm was hired by CSUN during the fall 2021 semester. Emily Prieto and Joshua Moon-Johnson created PMJ to help institutions identify where they lack in “equity, inclusion, and social justice.” Their list of previous clients include Cal Poly Pomona, University of California, Irvine, and Sierra College, according to their website.

PMJ gathered information for their 30-page Policing, Equity, and Inclusion Report through stakeholder input sessions, online community feedback forms and town halls.

The report featured various comments from individuals whose identities the consulting firm chose not to name.

Some CSUN community members reported that they felt a “militaristic type of environment” from the police, and believed they only exist to catch students committing crimes.

“We should limit the funding of the CSUN Police Department because of what we saw with BLM and the police riots,” one community member commented in the report. “These riots made you realize that police are important to protect and serve, but they can also abuse their power.”

The report also states that the department having a jail cell and a canine unit were a cause for concern to the community. Visible guns carried by officers and their manner of speaking when interacting with students made them feel unsafe.

PMJ suggests that campus police can improve in these areas by involving themselves more with the community and creating stronger relationships with individuals on campus.

The creation of a mental health response team within the department is advised. The consulting firm suggests hiring social workers and other mental health professionals who will respond to students and community members in a mental health crisis, as opposed to a police officer responding to those calls.

Another recommendation from the report is to reduce visibility of deadly weapons when interacting with CSUN community members, and do a better job of limiting who can have a deadly weapon.

It also suggests that campus police should wear a less traditional type of uniform to appear less threatening and more approachable. This is particularly emphasized for officers who might interact with marginalized communities.

The Policing, Equity, and Inclusion Report advises the school to change the name of the department from “police services” to suggestions like “center for campus safety and security,” “campus safety and community relations department,” or “safety and support services.”

The firm acknowledged in the report that “changing the name alone does very little to remedy injustices, but a name change along with other substantive changes can signify a shift in direction and philosophy.”

The addition of special units inside the department were also recommended, which they suggest should include a community relations and outreach unit as well as a diversity, equity and inclusion unit. The latter would have at least one position whose sole focus would be to make sure the department is focused on equity, while also advising the chief of police.

They also recommend that the current Police Advisory Committee at CSUN should expand to intentionally include more minorities and those from underserved communities.

PMJ states that these recommendations should be met with urgency, and with the understanding that “significant financial investments” will need to be made to improve the university’s police department.

The Sundial reached out to Vice President for Student Affairs William Watkins and AS Chair of Diversity and Inclusion Eden Laur for a comment on the findings of PMJ but did not receive a response.

At this time CSUN has not announced whether it will implement any changes recommended in the Policing, Equity, and Inclusion Report.