The Advancing Public Safety at the University of Michigan Task Force — one of several anti-racism initiatives the university announced last fall — will host its first community forum from 7-8:30 p.m. Feb. 9.

The event, which will take place virtually, will allow Ann Arbor campus faculty, staff, students, parents and Ann Arbor community members to share their experiences with campus policing and public safety, or join and listen.

The 20-member task force, co-chaired by U-M professors Earl Lewis of LSA and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and Daphne C. Watkins of the School of Social Work and Institute for Social Research, is charged with examining what’s working and what needs to be improved with the university’s Division of Public Safety and Security.

Input from the forum will help identify what is going well and areas for improvement as it relates to fostering public safety and securing a campus environment that encourages academic excellence.

“The goal of the forum is to allow members of the university community to share their experiences with public safety practices, personnel and policies,” Lewis said. “The forum will give participants the opportunity to do so in three-minute intervals. Speaking time will be limited to allow as many students, staff, faculty, alums and others to speak as possible.”

Those interested in speaking to their experience with overall public safety on campus, or with DPSS specifically, can do so by registering online. Community members can also share their input through a survey, which will be available until Feb. 15. 

The survey results and the session input will be used to inform the task force’s preliminary findings, and a final report will be publicly presented at the end of April.

“It is our responsibility to listen to the voices of people who directly interact with public safety on and around our campus,” Watkins said. “We want to make sure our review of public safety at the university results in everyone on our campus not only being safe, but feeling safe.”

The formation of the task force was among several anti-racism initiatives that U-M officials announced last fall, after the deaths of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police sparked national conversations around structural racism and policing. Its work is focusing on public safety on the Ann Arbor campus and could serve as a model for other campuses.

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