Policies for police oversight rarely followed, not advertised
This is part three of a series on dysfunction in the MSU Police Oversight Committee. Part one and covered how little it had met in the last three years. Part two noted how any complaints forwarded to the committee were reviewed by only one person. This part looks at the Secretary of Academic Governance and other concerns about the committee.
In theory, a complaint might be filed with the and then forwarded to the chair of the committee within 72 hours, according to the MSU Police Oversight Committee’s Statement of Purpose.
Because of staff transitions, this policy is rarely followed.
Interim Secretary for Academic Governance John W. Powell said he was not aware of this policy because he is in a temporary position and hasn’t had the opportunity to read through all procedures.
Powell said he has never received a complaint to be forwarded to the committee since taking over as interim secretary for academic governance, but if he had would know exactly what to do with it, according to procedure, “within a few minutes.”
Council of Graduate Students member Robert Vankirk, who sits on the eight-member police oversight committee, said he found the fact that the secretary was not made aware of the procedure to start with an issue.
“I found that to be troubling as well because their own procedures and policies in place aren’t universally advertised, even to university officials who are responsible for their implementation,” Vankirk said.
Vankirk said the oversight committee as well as its purpose and way of receiving, filing and addressing grievances must be well-known to residence hall advisers.
They should also be known by the Office of the University Ombudsperson, the police officers themselves and all other relevant players in the process.
Because of how unknown the committee is to members of the university as a whole, an advertising campaign must be conducted to raise awareness, Vankirk said.
“If you don’t know how to find that (the oversight committee’s website) or if you don’t know that exists, then it is really hard for you to know,” Vankirk said. “If you are not aware of it and you don’t know what to look for it’s incredibly hard to find on the website.”
Vankirk said he would also like to see mandatory monthly meetings spelled out in the committee’s governing documents.
Even with all the issues Vankirk said he sees with committee he still encouraged those with complaints to file for the committee to hear.
“Believe you me, I will make sure that (complaints) are investigated and I will make sure that every single complaint that we receive is heard,” Vankirk said. “If they want to just send that to me, by all means, and then I am aware of every single complaint that we receive.”