June 23, 2020
Dear Boston University Community,
The heinous murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have rightly focused our attention on the role of police departments in our country, the role that racism plays in the unequal and unjust application of laws that are supposed to protect human life and keep people safe, and the manner in which racism enables and results in harassment and violence against people of color by the police and, in some cases, by members of the public. More so, these horrific killings have motivated me to take action to ensure that our own police have established the most effective protocols, policies, and practices for discharging their responsibilities and authority within our community and in the neighborhoods surrounding our campus without bias and prejudice.
To accomplish these goals, among many others related to racial and other forms of equality, I am announcing the establishment of a Community Safety Advisory Group, reporting to the President, that will provide input and recommendations to the Chief of Police and University leadership on how the Boston University Police Department can enhance the quality of campus life and help foster a sense of physical and psychological safety and security for all members of the Boston University community, including students and employees of color, and other underrepresented, nontraditional, and marginalized communities on campus. The Advisory Group will also make recommendations regarding BUPD’s relationship with people in neighboring communities and its coordination with other local police departments.
The first step in this process is an important one: determining the structure and membership of this Advisory Group with the goal of arriving at a composition that will underscore the group’s legitimacy and increase its effectiveness. Student representation will play a large role in the group’s membership, and University faculty and staff representatives will be asked to participate as well. I am pleased to announce that Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig of the School of Law and Associate Provost and Dean of Students Kenn Elmore have agreed to assist in this task by leading a consultative process that will allow for community input into the group’s composition. I have asked them to complete this process and provide me with recommendations by the end of August, so that the work of the committee can begin in September.
I am grateful for the leadership of Kelly Nee, Chief of Police and Executive Director of Public Safety, who is looking forward to collaborating with this soon-to-be-formed Advisory Group. Over the past three years, Chief Nee has consistently demanded a high level of integrity, professionalism, and excellence from the officers under her command, and she seeks to improve her department through a partnership with the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will strengthen her efforts by providing a formal structure for effective communications between BUPD and Boston University students, staff, and faculty, including by serving as a resource for members of the University community to voice concerns, opinions, and suggestions for how BUPD can better protect and serve all members of the community.
Robert A. Brown