Lehigh administration announced an advisory committee has been formed to conduct a comprehensive review of Lehigh University Police Department policies and procedures.
The creation of the committee was announced in a Sept. 28 email to the Lehigh community from Pat Johnson, vice president of Finance and Administration, Donald Outing, vice president of Equity and Community and Provost Nathan Urban.
The advisory committee is chaired by Chad Williams, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, along with other members of Lehigh’s governing bodies. The committee is composed of faculty and undergraduate and graduate students.
Johnson said the committee’s main goal is to review LUPD policies and procedures for anything that is inherently discriminatory. Johnson said she sought campus-wide representation within the committee so they could accurately recommend policy changes.
”We asked each one of the (governing bodies) to suggest someone to be on the committee,” Johnson said.
Johnson said administrators recruited members from multiple governing bodies in order to form as representative a committee as possible. Each committee member is able to provide suggestions on policy issues.
Johnson believes the committee will decide how closely they want to work with LUPD itself. An outside consultant will be hired to help understand the policies, and, if further clarification is needed, members can contact Chief Jason Schiffer.
“I am committed to the process of ensuring that our department has a positive impact at Lehigh and in the surrounding community,” Schiffer said in an email.
The proposed consultant would be someone detached from the university who can provide an outside perspective. Johnson said contracts for the consultant are currently being drafted.
Johnson said she would leave scheduling and internal rules for committee members to decide.
Williams said the advising committee is “looking at all policies in regards to anti-racism.” He said the committee is a collection of individuals who bring different goals and passions to the review process, and, while each member may have different reasons for joining the committee, he believes they all hope to improve Lehigh.
“A part of this charge is to focus on improving LUPD and its relationship with the campus and the community,” Williams said.
Schiffer and Williams both said the process will be comprehensive and will take as long as needed. Johnson said the timeline is up to the committee members to decide.
“As chair of the committee, I am not concerned for time but rather the quality of the process and the recommendations,” Williams said.
Williams said the committee plans to work closely with LUPD throughout the review process.
Schiffer said he wants LUPD to work closely with the advising committee as well and to be “as open as possible.”
He said the advisory committee should be able to see exactly how LUPD operates in order to provide the best recommendations for policy change. He added that, in order for Lehigh to become an anti-racist community, all current policies should be reviewed.
The Sept. 28 email to the Lehigh community said there will be opportunities for input from the Lehigh community.
Johnson said if a member of the Lehigh community wants to add their own input, they should reach out to Williams.