CPP Police Advisory Task Force prepares for action in spring

The Cal Poly Pomona Police Advisory Task Force is preparing for its retreat in January where participants will shape the future police advisory board. The retreat will include discussion regarding the frameworks of policing, the difference between policing a city and policing a campus and implicit bias training for the members of the task force.

The task force is comprised of four faculty and staff, nine students, one alumni and one police officer. All members are volunteering their time to be a part of the task force.

The task force’s primary objective is to design the structure and purpose for the future advisory board. The secondary objective is to analyze the campus UPD’s current operations, compare CPP’s police department to that of other campuses and use the data to reform the campus’ police force.

Jeremy Manning, a fourth-year philosophy student and a student representative within the task force, is a veteran with a background in law enforcement. As a person of color, Manning believes the campus community needs to better understand its relationship with UPD and hopes the PATF can educate the campus on what that connection is.

“With the events that have happened within the past years starting with Trayvon Martin and moving up to now, I feel like this year, if not any other year, is the year to establish some form of dialogue in which we can actually address things in communities we often kind of neglect,” said Manning.

These issues have also bled onto the CPP campus. Townhall meetings held Fall 2019 centered around inclusivity on campus, students were able to anonymously voice their personal accounts with racial profiling at CPP. Later, on Nov. 21, 2019 students held a “Red Shoe Protest” to bring awareness to the racial discrimination and harassment issues on campus.

Cheyenne Thomas | The Poly Post

Conversations regarding campus climate and police presence on campus also began that same year and kept the attention of Presidential Associate for Inclusive Excellence Nicole Butts as well as within ASI’s Student Opportunities Initiative.

“The original idea behind the task force was to create an opportunity for students primarily and the police department to engage in ongoing conversations to better understand one another and develop some strategies and techniques around that engagement,” said Butts. “Since then, I think it’s taken a slightly different approach and a very appropriate approach, so the task force is really designed to help provide some guidance and recommendations to the police department.”

Nicole Butts and Reginald Blaylock led the discussions with students, Nov. 2019. Georgia Valdes | The Poly Post

According to Butts, the idea was raised as a result of conversations with students who shared concerns around the police department’s role on campus.

Alejandro Covarrubias, executive director for student inclusion and belonging, and chair of the task force, spoke about the motivation for creating the group.

“It’s a good way to build community with the police department, the rest of the campus and particularly with students,” said Covarrubias. “Over the summer with the killing of George Floyd and with the national protests around police brutality, racial justice and addressing the anti-blackness in our country there was really a moment where the relationship between university police at Cal Poly Pomona and our students needed to be strengthened.”

Covarrubias also mentioned that the task force intends to actively listen to the campus community.

According to Covarrubias, the task force has meetings planned for spring semester. Meetings in February will cover the UPD’s budget, its organizational structure, training modules and any data that UPD collects, March meetings will cover brainstorming and putting together the proposal for what the advisory board should look for and the last meeting will finalize the task force’s proposal and recommendations which will be shared with the Vice President for Student Affairs Christina Gonzales and Robinson.

Chief Robinson did not respond to interview requests from The Poly Post.

The task force hopes the proposal will be approved by Gonzales and the President’s Cabinet along with other community feedback before the end of the spring 2021 semester so that it may be implemented for the beginning of the fall 2021 semester.

Gabriele Plickert, an assistant professor in the Sociology Department and Academic Senate Representative within the task force, expressed that the CPP campus represents inclusiveness, and she hopes the task force will embody the campus values and bring everyone together to create recommendations in a way that is proactive.

“We have a number of students from campus being part of our task force and we want their voice to be heard the most and so, it’s really refreshing and nice to see that we will have different voices at the table,” said Plickert.

Emily Cooper, a fifth-year sociology criminology student and a student representative within the task force believes that the PATF is long overdue.

“I hope that the task force will offer the campus community reassurance that our police force’s goal is safety and reassurance, that how safety gets implemented is not going to negatively impact any of our students, faculty and staff, that our police force is here for everyone and that our police force is not going to negatively impact daily operations,” Cooper said.

Student representative, Ronnie Lira, a first-year graduate student in the MBA program, hopes the task force will address a variety of law enforcement issues. He also believes that the general public see all law enforcement in a negative light, but that it is essential for the PATF to separate UPD from this narrative.

“I think the key word would be community policing,” said Lira. “The community really needs to get involved with the police department and the police department really needs to get involved with the community.”

For more information on the CPP Police Advisory Task Force visit its website.

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