Resolution: SA R30: Calling For the Disarmament of the Cornell University Police Department

ActionRejected by the President


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Dear Cat,
Thank you for submitting SA Resolution #9: “Demanding Cornell Dissolve All Relations with the Ithaca Police Department” and SA Resolution #30: “Calling for the Disarmament of the Cornell University Police Department” for my consideration. I appreciate the SA using its voice to speak out on subjects of importance to our campus community. For the reasons outlined below, I cannot support either resolution.
Currently, the Ithaca Police Department (IPD) relies on the Cornell University Police Department (CUPD) to patrol campus and respond to 911 calls that originate on campus. If the university were to cease coordinating with IPD, as Resolution #9 encourages it to do, IPD would likely begin patrols of campus and would overlap with CUPD in responding to on-campus calls for emergency services. Ongoing coordination with IPD also makes it possible to hold employees and students accountable for their actions off campus, including criminal activity and acts of bias that represent violations of Cornell policies and the Code of Conduct. Conversely, IPD also makes Cornell aware when a student off campus is injured, ill or is a victim of crime, enabling us to make sure that the student is connected to the many services the university offers for support.
Were the university to disarm its officers, as Resolution #30 encourages it to do, CUPD would not and could not respond to violent crimes on or near our campus and Cornell would be required by New York State Education Law Article 129-A to enter into an arrangement with a local police agency, such as IPD, to respond to and investigate violent crimes. As a result, officers from that local agency would be present on campus as they carry out duties related to violent crimes, taking the place of CUPD officers who currently carry out these roles.
Hence, should either of these resolutions be approved, local (non-Cornell) law enforcement officers would be present on campus more frequently and Cornell would have less control over training the officers charged with protecting the university community.
I am pleased that the Division of Student and Campus Life is moving ahead with its hiring of a new Community Response Team, which, as noted in the community message from earlier this week, will respond to issues of wellness, crisis or distress within campus living environments enabling CUPD to focus its efforts on acts of violence, addressing traffic offenses and investigating crimes and unlawful behavior.
This is a challenging time for all of us, with our university and the nation confronting difficult matters of race, but the current public conversation about systemic racism is a promising sign that large numbers of people in this country want change and are willing to put in the work to end racial injustice. Here at Cornell, I hope to see our students and employees commit to that hard work of respectful dialogue and understanding that will allow us to communicate across our differences, create an inclusive environment, and grow together as a community.
Martha E. Pollack
Martha E. Pollack
President, Cornell University
300 Day Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Tel: 607-255-5201