Campus Police Departments Struggle With Issues of Race

The head of the University of Pennsylvania’s police union was not pleased to hear how Amy Gutmann had ended up lying on the floor this month at her own holiday party.

Ms. Gutmann, the university’s president, had lowered herself onto her back to show solidarity with student demonstrators who staged a “die-in” at her party as part of a national wave of protestsover the killing of unarmed black men by police officers. The high-minded rationale for her action was exactly what inspired Eric J. Rohrback, the president of the Penn Police Association, to regard it as a faux pas.

In a letter published by The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper, Mr. Rohrback said Ms. Gutmann had delivered “a slap in the face to every person that wears this uniform and serves this university.” His letter accused the protesters of ignoring how the grand jury examining the shooting of Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., had “fully exonerated the officer.”

The tensions that have surfaced at Penn are similar to those found at many of the nation’s colleges at a time of heightened attention to how the police treat members of minority groups. Several colleges’ police forces have also been the subject of recent controversies stemming from allegations they had engaged in racial profiling. How to equally protect all appears to be a task many continue to struggle to get right. <Read more.>

Via Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education.