Campus Message from Chief Secka
By Lamine Secka, CSUSM Chief of Police
This message was shared with the campus community on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Dear CSUSM Community,
Over the course of this past week, we all have been shaken by the unnecessary death of George Floyd. I know the grief continues to weigh heavily on many members of our community and I share your sadness and outrage. It is important for me to share with the CSUSM community my feelings of what I saw in those tragic moments.
To be clear, I am deeply troubled by the actions taken that day, as are the officers in our department. In my 23 years in law enforcement, I have never come across a policy or training tactic that condones the use of a knee and body weight on the neck of an individual. To the contrary, we are specifically taught that the neck and head are vulnerable areas that should be avoided. The tactics employed by the officer in this incident are in direct contrast to any legitimate training that I am aware of. Similar unauthorized use of force would never be tolerated by a CSUSM University Police Department officer.
I believe that an important part of being a police officer at CSUSM is that we need to be adept at understanding the needs of our diverse community. This has never been more true than it is today, when our campus and our country demands that we have hard conversations and tackle difficult topics head on.
Intelligent discourse followed by concrete, actionable goals supported by strong partnerships between the police and the community they serve is how we will move forward. And move forward we must, because we are a better and stronger country when we work together toward a common goal.
This begins with us, the police department. Being a police officer and being granted the opportunity to serve the public is a privilege rather than a right, and that mentality needs to be at the forefront of everything we do. As a husband and father, I want to know that no matter where my family may go, they will always be treated equitably and their safety will be paramount regardless of which police jurisdiction they may be in.
Here at CSUSM, we do not consider our police force to be separate from campus, but very much embedded in it as an integral part of our collective academic mission. Our officers, dispatchers and administrative support staff are your colleagues and partners in supporting the lifelong success of our students. We are committed to working with you to build trust, have open and courageous conversations, and foster healthy relationships and collaborations.
This past year I worked closely with the Academic Senate, and I want to thank Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Sharon Hamill in particular for her partnership on several campus safety initiatives. Some of the direct results of this work together includes:
- Served as a member of the Academic Senate Student Affairs Committee’s subcommittee charged with reviewing use of force policies, safety policies and examining restorative policing efforts at other campuses nationwide.
- Co-convened with Dr. Hamill the Office of Inclusive Excellence Workgroup #3, charged with following up on Academic Senate 751-18 “Resolution on University Police Department’s Use of Force & CSUSM’s Critical Incident Response.”
- Creation of a new campus community engagement group composed of students, faculty and staff who will work directly with me to provide insight on a variety of issues or concerns involving the department and the CSUSM community. This group will officially launch in July.
- An ongoing focus on recruiting a diverse group of officers who reflect the community we serve.
- Implementation of a training course for new police supervisors that includes cultural competency training from the DREAMer Resource Office and Project Rebound as well as training on implicit bias and racial profiling that supplements existing training that has been in place for several years.
In just my first year as chief of police, I’m proud of these accomplishments and look forward to making progress. Moving forward, I have every confidence that the officers of our department, as well as those we hope to hire in the near future are, and will be, steadfast in their work to create a campus where everyone matters and belongs; where anyone can study, work, learn, teach, jog, and live their daily life without fear; where all students can pursue their academic goals and turn dreams into reality. This is a responsibility UPD shares with you.
The CSUSM University Police Department stands with all those who oppose hate, prejudice and racism, and we are committed to honest self-reflection and working hard to maintain your trust in providing the level of service and protection that you expect.
Chief of Police
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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