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From the Desk: Capt. Andy Stephenson of IUPD discusses the importance of positive interaction with university community

Oct. 19, 2016

With classes well underway and a flurry of events and activity occurring on the Bloomington campus, I want to take a moment to address concerns regarding police abuse of power and use of force, and the impact on our campus, that some of you have shared with me.

Capt. Andy Stephenson

Captain of Operations Andy Stephenson | PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDY STEPHENSON

We have all witnessed controversial and, in some cases, unlawful police conduct in media reports. Likewise, some of you have, undoubtedly, had a personal experience that may have contributed to the forming of a negative viewpoint of not only a particular police officer but of all police officers. The men and women of the IU Police Department share your concern. We acknowledge and recognize your fear.

Traditional policing philosophy, in which the primary mission is a reactive approach to the enforcement of laws, is ineffective in meeting the needs of communities and breeds negative contact with citizens. There is no doubt that the traditional police culture has helped to shape a climate of distrust between police and citizens, an “us versus them” world view by police, and an aura of suspicion in which all citizens are treated as though they are potential threats.

The IUPD has transitioned to a policing philosophy oriented toward customer service and positive interaction between police and citizens. We are updating our procedures on all campuses to reflect this and to align with best practices in the field. We are providing our officers with contemporary training on topics such as unbiased policing, de-escalation techniques, community relations, diversity, etc.

The IU Police Academy entrusts us with a unique and very important responsibility and enables us to make an even greater contribution to the future of policing in the United States. Our police academy graduates are IU students and future alumni who will work as police officers throughout the country. Our goal is to produce highly trained and educated, customer-service oriented officers who have been exposed to many different races and cultures and who can truly have a positive impact on the policing profession.

No matter your race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability or socioeconomic status, the IUPD serves every member of our community fairly, equally and without bias. Nothing less will be tolerated. Bias-based incidents should be reported to the IUPD and/or the Office of the Dean of Students.

Indiana University should be a safe haven where cultures from all over the world converge to live, share ideas and grow together. We must all come together to ensure that the rights of every member of our community are respected. We must work together to maintain an environment in which all students, faculty and staff can thrive in their pursuit of excellence. We must communicate with one another to solve problems so that we can prevent safety and crime issues from having a negative impact on our quality of life and the academic success of students.

We want to get to know you, and we invite you to get to know us. A vast majority of IUPD employees are IU alum who have a deep commitment to ensuring that those who call IU home have a world-class experience during their years on campus. We are a transparent organization. All are welcome to stop by the police department and take a tour, to schedule a ride-along with an officer, to explore our websites, to join us on Facebook or to simply take advantage of an opportunity to approach an officer and have a conversation. We offer seminars and presentations on a variety of topics, including active shooter response, self-defense for women, alcohol and drug abuse awareness, and many others. In addition, our police instructors can create a presentation to meet your needs for any safety-related subject.

Officers of the IUPD are always on duty to help protect you and serve your needs. We welcome new ideas and suggestions regarding ways we can better serve our community. We work for you. We are accountable to you. We are your police department.

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