The SGA Police Advisory Review Council met Thursday to discuss possible initiatives to improve student-police relations at the University of Maryland.
They considered several ideas, including providing an informational video for students, reaching out to the university community and encouraging police to participate in events with students on campus.
PARC directors said an informational video could help educate students about the University Police Department’s policies and help break down these policies so more people understand them.
“There is just so much information that you don’t know where to start or where to stop,” said LaRen Morton, co-director of the council.
University Police recently updated its policies, but the council has not had access to them yet.
The council plans to meet with University Police for the first time this semester next week, where it will request the department’s policy document so the council can start working on the video as soon as possible, Morton said.
PARC plans to meet with the department every other week this semester.
Council member Stephanie Folling-Fitzgerald, Graduate Student Government vice president of academic affairs, said students should have greater access to information about who creates these policies and who governs the police.
Council member Payton Foster said the council should set up social media accounts, such as a Google form and a Twitter account, to improve student outreach. PARC could also send out an emailed survey to students so that the council can learn what some of their common concerns are, she added.
Police have met with the student body at two “Breaking Bread” events, where they had the opportunity to get to know each other over dinner.
PARC plans to host an event this semester that is less formal than “Breaking Bread,” such as an ice cream social, to help carryout the SGA’s plan and make police appear more approachable, said Tese Inegbenebor, co-director of the council.
The SGA voted unanimously to create PARC in March 2015 in response to student concerns about police transparency.
In May 2016, University Police used pepper spray to disperse a Courtyards graduation party of predominantly black students, fueling tensions between students and police. The department investigated the incident and found the use of pepper spray was justified, but avoidable.
Although the council has not met as frequently in the past, it plans to meet more often this semester.
Police Chief David Mitchell was not immediately available for comment.