Editor’s Note: This article contains references to police brutality.
At the Feb. 9 senate meeting, SGA listened to UCCS’ chief of police Dewayne McCarver discuss police reform at UCCS.
McCarver spoke about some of his frustrations with policing in America and how they almost caused him to retire from law enforcement until he found a job at UCCS last semester.
Now, he wants to tackle hard topics with the goal of impacting police reform by promoting more collaboration with campus police and students.
“Maybe the next great revolutionary idea in law enforcement can come right out of UCCS… I hope that maybe we can be a small part of making policing better, making our community better and making our country better through working together,” McCarver said.
McCarver believes that officers that behave in inappropriate ways only do so because there’s a cultural system in place that enables that behavior.
To illustrate this, McCarver spoke about the recent case of Tyre Nichols. According to an article from the Associated Press, Nichols was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation and subsequently beaten by five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Those officers were wearing body cameras and they still behaved that way … If you’re going to behave that way knowing you’re on camera and no one’s going to do anything about it — that’s a big issue,” McCarver said.
While McCarver believes that police officers should receive more training to correct bad behavior, he also thinks the solution needs to go further by requiring officers to have a broad college education with a significant amount of time spent studying law.
“We expect too much of our cops. We’re expecting them to behave like a highly educated person with a lot of emotional intelligence, but we have not prepared them for that. We haven’t set those expectations about what we expect when they come into the field. And so, we really need to look into upping that into a four-year degree,” McCarver said.
McCarver strives toward changing police culture by educating his officers and by making the UCCS’ police department more open and transparent.
He wants to host monthly sit-down events where students and officers can engage with one another and share their different perspectives. The goal of these events is to create a space for open discussion surrounding on-campus policing to take place.
McCarver is also making programs for officers to earn their degree for free while working at UCCS. He hopes this will lead to broader changes that will impact the rest of the country.
“My vision is that we lead from the front. We want to show what the model should look like,” McCarver said.