LAWRENCE, Kan. — From the current health crisis to the nationwide protests, it’s been a year of change.
Now some students at the University of Kansas are calling for a big shift in policing practices on campus.
“A lot of people have asked us, why not reform instead of completely disband it, etc. The problem with reform is that right now a lot of the reform that have been in place have sort of make them better in terms of interacting with students. It’s very minimal,” Abolition KU organizer Azja Butler said.
Abolition KU has started a petition to abolish KU’s police department. In the petition, students are asking for the university to:
- Immediately dismantle the police services patrol division.
- Disarm all security.
- Ban Immigration and Customs Enforcement from campus.
- Prohibit Lawrence police from entering on-campus housing or dinging facilities without a reasonable, documented emergency
As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition has more than 900 signatures.
“We should be working on preventative care rather than reactive care. A lot of times our officers aren’t trained in things like trauma, sexual assaults or anything like that,” Butler said. “We think funding those programs that are out to do that on campus is going to be a lot more important.”
Some students don’t agree with getting rid of on-campus police.
“I think that keeping it the way it is would be the best idea because you’re always going to have those couple of idiots that just go and make really stupid decisions,” KU student Ann Hess said.
The university recently created a task force to address community responsive public safety.
In a statement, the school’s chancellor said:
“The University of Kansas has benefited immensely over the years from having its own on-campus public safety office, and will continue to do so. We look forward to being part of the much-needed national movement to reexamine police and public safety to ensure that our practices are sound, and just.”
As for Butler, who’s on the task force, she feels the school is taking a step forward.
“We all feel really good and really confident about how KU responded. We think that it would be a really great opportunity for us to set an example in the Midwest,” Butler said.
KU distinguished professor Charles Epp is leading the task force. He tells FOX4 they expect to complete their work and issue a report in late October or November.