Margolis Healy to discuss PSU campus safety report at March 7 board meeting


Representatives from Margolis Healy, an independent safety and security consultant, will be discussing their campus safety report on March 7 during a special meeting with the Board of Trustees, PSU community and public.

The consultant will be discussing its findings and over 100 recommendations in the 209-page report during the 9 a.m. meeting at the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom (see agenda). Board members, students, faculty, staff and the public will have an opportunity to ask the consultants questions and to comment.

The Board will not be voting on the report’s recommendations at this meeting. Instead, they will be announcing the next steps in gathering campus and community input on the report and its recommendations.

Those planning to attend the board meeting can sign up by March 5 to ask Margolis Healy questions and to comment at the meeting. Those who miss the online sign up should check in with a PSU staff member at the meeting to be added to the speakers list.

The consultant’s report concludes that students, faculty and staff are divided on the issue of disarming campus police, with the firm recommending more training and oversight of officers. The results of a Margolis Healy opinion survey of 4,145 students, faculty and staff shows that 52 percent of participants want PSU to disarm their 10 sworn police officers. Roughly 37 percent of the respondents believe the officers should keep their firearms, while 10 percent had no opinion.

Margolis Healy recommends that PSU continue with the original Board of Trustee’s decision in 2014 to arm sworn campus police officers so that they are available to respond to violent and potentially violent situations.

“The information regarding crime and other violent situations the Board used to make their decisions about transitioning to armed officers has not fundamentally changed, especially with respect to violent incidents,” the report states. “Disarming CPSO officers would make PSU an outlier amongst its peers and would represent an abnormal step with respect to campus safety models in higher education.”

Some of the report’s key recommendations include:

  • Enhance new officer training by creating a mini police academy to cover topics such as cultural competency, awareness, humility, bias-policing, de-escalation techniques, effective communications with the public, crisis intervention, alternatives to arrest and creating positive relationships with underserved communities.
  • Develop a mandatory, annual in-service training program consisting of at least 80 hours. Adopt the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) standards on training and professional development. Incorporate racial and biased based policing training into the CPSO’s annual in-service training program. Conduct mandatory training for officers wearing body cameras.
  • Increase oversight of CPSO by PSU’s University Public Safety Oversight Committee to include making policy, procedure and training recommendations; having enhanced oversight of use-of-force incidents; getting access to closed internal CPSO investigations, etc.
  • Develop a plan for producing bias-free policing.
  • Increase the number of unarmed CPSO officers for patrol and security-related calls.
  • Deploy certified mental health professionals with CPSO officers on calls where the person involved is either suspected or known to be experiencing a mental health crisis, or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Develop a community liaison unit focused on campus engagement, crime prevention and safety awareness programming. This unit would focus on engaging in sustained dialogue with the PSU community to restore trust and establish legitimacy.

Story by Kenny Ma