March 5, 2004

UCPD completes brutality inquiry

With students preparing demonstrations and a day of silence to protest the alleged beating of a University student on January 24, the University Police Department (UCPD) announced Thursday that it has completed its internal investigation of the incident.

Since completing the investigation, the UCPD referred the incident to the Committee on University Security (CUS). The CUS, which reviews all reported complaints against police officers, was recently reactivated. It has been inactive for several years.

Upon the request of VicePresident and Dean of Students in the University Steven Klass, William Harms at the University of Chicago News Office sent the Maroon a two-page letter outlining the University's position, answering several questions about the situation.

The CUS has no timeline for completing its inquiry, and it will review the matter for as long as it feels necessary. When complete, it will send a report to Hank Webber, vice president for community and government affairs and the University officer responsible for the UCPD.

The letter reiterated that details of what happened with the officers involved in the incident would not be disclosed, due to privacy concerns. "In order to protect the privacy of individuals, we do not release to the public in an identifiable manner the results of complaints about individual employees."

Carthans, the alleged victim, claimed that that two police officers, patrolmen Jenkins and Cochran, brutally assaulted him, as the Maroon reported February 13. Since then, community members have called for the University to disclose its investigation of the incident.

Harms' letter emphasized that University police officers are hired based on their skills. To be hired by the UCPD, applicants must submit to a written examination, a psychological screening, and a drug screening. A three-person board of UCPD members then reviews the application, trying to find friendly candidates who are community-oriented and have good communication skills.

Once the University officers are hired, they must undergo more rigorous training than that of the Chicago Police Department. During their 8 to 10 weeks of training, they learn about working on-campus and dealing with the University community. Afterwards, they undergo a 36-week training period at the Chicago Police Academy. Once all training is completed, the officers are required to pass a certification exam administered by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.

The letter from Harms also addressed the procedures officers must undergo to stop individuals on campus. "Police officers respond to situations they think are suspicious or in which they think a crime has taken place or is about to take place," the letter wrote.

The CUS includes three faculty members, three students, and two University staff. It is chaired by Law School professor David Strauss.