REPORT ON POLICING
Prepared by Abolish Stanford
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In November 2020, Stanford announced that they were forming the Community Board on Public Safety, a team of students, faculty, staff, and members of SUDPS to assess the landscape of public safety and propose recommendations to the university.
The board will be releasing a report on their findings from this past year, but we don't need to wait for their report to know the facts: that the SUDPS does not actually create public safety, that they receive far too much funding, that officers are rarely held accountable for their misconduct. We also cannot wait for recommendations from the board that the university will inevitably delay and deflect.
This is our own report on policing, with data gathered from police call logs, research, and building with our communities on- and off-campus. Our findings point overwhelmingly to one solution: cops off campus.
Police Call Logs
In 2020, the cops responded to a total of 1,015 incidents. Despite the smaller student population on campus, we did not see a dramatic decrease in police activity. In fact, many students reported greater police presence.
We looked at the location, type, and response to these incidents to understand what role police play on campus. The data reveals what Stanford's priorities were during the pandemic, which were—surprise—not community health and safety.
SUDPS's jurisdiction extends well beyond campus, into Portola Valley, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto. The cops were called to 728 off-campus incidents and 138 on-campus incidents. When over 80% of police activity happens outside Stanford, we can see that our "safety" comes at the expense of the neighboring communities. In one egregious case in 2002, an SUDPS Deputy was involved in the murder of EPA resident Pedro Calderon, but no charges were filed. Abolishing SUDPS means reducing the over-policing of surrounding Black and Brown neighborhoods.
Of the 1,015 incidents, 89.7% were non-violent. These included 622 property incidents, 58 driving registration incidents, 17 cases of "loitering," one "annoying phone call," one "leash law violation," and one person smoking weed in public in a state where it's legal. There is no reason to call police to these incidents. No one is getting hurt, and the issues can usually be resolved with a conversation, or simply ignoring it.
The remaining 10.3% of these cases were considered "violent," which included 43 cases of assault, 18 non-criminal hate incidents, nine reckless driving incidents, and six domestic violence incidents. In these crisis situations, the police do not help. They do not stop the violence from happening, and they cannot repair the damage that has been done afterward. Furthermore, cops notoriously perpetrate many of these themselves.
Of these cases, 64% were cleared/closed, which meant they were closed with no resolution or action taken, so calling the cops did not help at all. Even if cops took action, they are unlikely to remedy the situation; they don't un-rob your house, fix your windows, or heal trauma. 17% of calls resulted in arrest, with the most arrests made for petty theft. Making arrests for property crimes does not help anyone and ignores the root issue that people steal when they need to survive. Law enforcement exists to protect property and preserve material wealth.
Stanford employs 178 "public safety" staff, including 11 armed security officers and 26 deputy sheriffs. This year, during a pandemic, Stanford spent $35 million on policing, including $10 million for a new police station, in the same year that they laid off 84 custodial staff, amidst calls for more mental health resources, financial support for students, and funding for ethnic studies.
Stanford police officers are protected by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a contract with the police union. This contract subsidizes police misconduct by giving paid leave during internal investigations. Misconduct is expunged from officers' records, making transparency nearly impossible. Stanford even needs approval from SUDPS to discipline or terminate its own officers. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a contract between Stanford and Santa Clara County, gives SUDPS the powers of a public police force, such as carrying guns and making arrests, without meaningful oversight from the county or its voters. SUDPS isn't accountable to the public or admin—just itself.
We've seen the harm that SUDPS creates, both on- and off-campus, and we know that we cannot be safe or free until policing is abolished everywhere. We want cops off our campus. These are our demands: