September 29, 2022
Dear University of Oregon community members,
In late 2021, the University of Oregon hired 21CP Solutions (21CP), a nationally recognized consultant, to provide an independent, outside review of campus safety and develop recommendations on how to further improve university police policies and practices. I am pleased to share the final report from 21CP on Recommendations for the University of Oregon Regarding Campus Well-Being Topics.
We asked 21CP to engage with students, faculty, staff, and the community to garner views about expectations regarding public safety and the University of Oregon Police Department’s (UOPD) role on campus. The scope of the assessment was categorized into three areas:
- Response to individuals experiencing mental, behavioral, and emotional health challenges on campus
- Additional changes to the roles, responsibilities, and functions of UOPD
- Police accountability process review board structure
This month, 21CP presented us with the final report and there is much to digest and act upon. One theme that clearly emerged is that our community is strongly focused on mental health support for students and other members of the UO community. This is consistent with many conversations that we have been having over the last few years, and we will be rolling out a comprehensive framework regarding student wellness over the next few months. However, preventative and/or ameliorative mental health care is a broader topic that does not sit with the UO Police Department, and so actions in that space are set apart from the direct charge of the UOPD role on campus.
From a public safety point of view, much of the focus on mental health flows from the desire to provide public safety responses that do not include armed police officers. The CAHOOTS program in Eugene is a well-known model for such an approach. What is perhaps less well known is that CAHOOTS relies on 911 dispatchers and safety protocols, which often includes law enforcement securing a scene before engaging in their work, so this model is not simply an either/or situation. For our campus, some 80 to 90 percent of mental-health related police calls involve individuals who have come on campus, but who are not members of the UO community. Therefore, while a focus on mental health services is clearly important for the region as a whole, our success in this space will depend heavily on enhancing connectivity and cooperation with city-led organizations.
Another concern that led to the commissioning of this report is that some students on campus, especially those from minoritized populations, do not feel comfortable with police. As outlined below, we have already reduced the number of armed officers and expanded the role of community service officers (CSOs) in our safety operations. We continue to evaluate all of our rules and engagement procedures to encourage de-escalation of encounters, while still ensuring the safety of all of those involved, including officers and CSOs who might be responding to a call. Critically, we will explore ways to expand the role of the Complaint Resolution Committee (CRC), comprised of faculty, students, and staff, in this work and as a vehicle to enhance community engagement in our public safety operations.
We will continue to review and assess 21CP’s recommendations, outline the work we can advance as a university, and define what work we will need to accomplish with our community partners. I outline much of that work in greater detail below.
Today is not the beginning of this work nor is it the end. Meaningful progress requires us to be persistent in tackling issues, discussing solutions, and moving together toward a better university. We are committed to that work and will continue to provide the community with updates as we work through the full scope of the report.
Interim President and Professor of Biology
AREA 1: Response to Individuals Experiencing Mental, Behavioral, and Emotional Health Challenges on Campus
- Many of the individuals experiencing mental health challenges on our campus are not directly associated with the university and instead are members of the broader Eugene community. We know that it will take the entire community to address these issues. We will convene community partners and advance the discussion to look at livability and wellness around our campus.
- We plan to work with the City of Eugene, the University Business District, and CAHOOTS to determine how we can support more resources as we continue to see substantial growth in the near-campus areas. Importantly, Oregon is the first state to receive federal funds to expand models like CAHOOTS.
- To address issues of student mental health, we unified our mental professional teams of counseling services and psychiatry services into one location of UHS for improved access for students and for professionals to work side by side while treating students.
- A few years ago, we added five full-time mental health professionals to our counseling staff; implemented hybrid virtual and in-person mental health services, including group therapy and individual therapy; and embedded a mental health professional in primary care to provide immediate support to students experiencing a mental health issue during a primary care visit. During the pandemic several of our mental health professionals were recruited away to other organizations and we are currently in final interviews to replace those team members.
- We enhanced group therapy and implemented Christie Campus, our tele-counseling service partner, to help students receive mental health care while on campus or off campus to improve access.
- We launched “Let’s Talk” to provide briefer, more informal consultation to students – emphasizing support for marginalized students, but also providing support for other student populations (e.g., graduate students).
- We implemented Kognito, a practice-based digital learning environment to improve mental health and wellbeing on college campuses. Kognito simulations enable us to rapidly build the capacity of faculty, staff, and students to lead real-life conversations which help students recognize their needs and provide readily available resources. All Student Services & Enrollment Management team members are required to complete Kognito training by the end of the calendar year.
- We are participating in an NIH funded study in collaboration with the College of Education/Prevention Science Program to study interventions for students at risk for suicide. There are four universities participating in this study – University of Oregon, Rutgers, Duke, and University of Nevada-Reno. Student participants who have been assessed to be at higher risk for suicide at intake participate in one of three therapy modalities.
- We added a drop-in, virtual faculty/staff consultation hour twice a week for faculty and staff who want to consult with Counseling Leadership about student mental health concerns.
- Interviews are currently underway to hire a mental health promotion specialist to join our Public Health Practices team.
- Within six months we will implement an acute care mental health triage system for students coming in with mental health concerns. This team will immediately provide an assessment and appropriate follow-up care.
AREA 2: Additional Changes to the Roles, Responsibilities, and Functions of UOPD
- Before engaging 21CP, we reduced the number of armed officer positions by 26% and increased the number of community service officers (CSO) on campus. We now have 14 CSO positions (12 in Eugene and 2 in Portland). Our CSOs are unarmed and lead the response to non-emergency calls for service that do not require the presence of a police officer. The CSO program reports to UOPD's Director of Engagement, a non-law enforcement position.
- We moved Duck Rides to UO Transportation Services, which aligns with our campus transportation plan and 21CP's recommendations. We will expand our promotion of the Duck Rides program for students and staff at night.
- We continue to promote the safety at night map and app that allows individuals to report concerns about lighting and nighttime safety on campus. We plan to relaunch the Annual Campus Night Safety Walk, which in the past was cohosted by the ASUO, Campus Planning and Facilities Management, the Office of the Dean of Students, the University of Oregon Police Department, and Safety and Risk Services. We will also continue working with the City of Eugene to encourage improvement in nighttime safety and lighting in the near-campus areas.
- Planning is underway for a new 24/7 call center that will serve as the primary after-hours resource to connect service requests with the appropriate campus safety resources. Our goal is to ensure the best responses are aligned with the most appropriate campus or community resources. We will also regularly review and update the current UOPD Calls for Service Response Matrix, a publicly available document which outlines how calls for service are assigned.
AREA 3: Police Accountability Process Review Board Structure
- We currently have a Complaint Resolution Committee (CRC) comprised of faculty, students, and staff, which reviews all complaints and associated investigatory processes related to University of Oregon Police Department policies or the conduct of UOPD personnel.
- This fall, we will review the 21CP police accountability recommendations with the CRC members to explore ways to enhance the committee's role, expand the training that CRC members receive and improve communication about the CRC to the university community