The Northwestern University police headquarters at Ridge and Davis in Evanston. (Google Maps image)

Northwestern University officials have pledged to review the operations of the school’s police department as part of a broader response to national concerns about violence and discriminatory policies impacting marginalized people.

The statement, issued by University President Morton Schapiro, says the police policy review is designed “to ensure that all of our students, faculty and staff are safe and protected.”

It pledges a reexamination of the police “use of force policy, in particular relating to reporting protocol and impartial third-party review; its bias-free policing policy, to improve accountability; and law enforcement professionalism standards.”

The school also promises to “supplement and reinforce annual training on de-escalation and responses to indivudall in crisis.” and says the school’s Police Advisory Board — with a diverse group of students, staff and faculty — “will be integral to reassessing programs and communications regarding public safety concerns, along with our relationships with the Evanston and Chicago police departments.”

In the statement Schapiro also pledges to extend the just-concluded five-year Good Neighbors Fund commitment that provided $1 million a year for community needs in Evanston with a new $1.5 million commitment for the 2020-21 fiscal year to provide $1.5 million toward “programs that dismantle systemic barriers faced by historically marginalized communities” in Evanston and Chicago.

The statement also promises to do more hiring from marginalized communities, expand diversity training programs, expedite the renovation of The Black House on campus and conduct a national search for the schools next chief diversity officer.

Some students at the school have been circulating a petition calling on the university to sever ties with police agencies in Evanston and Chicago.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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