Policing statement

WSU Vancouver Police Department August 2020

Serving the citizens of Washington State University Vancouver

WSU Vancouver Police is a member of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. WASPC is an organization of law enforcement professionals who are dedicated to improving law enforcement safety, practices and policy in Washington state. All WSU Vancouver police officers are trained and certified by the Washington Criminal Justice Training Center.

WSU Vancouver Police remain committed to ideals proposed to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee by WASPC leadership in June 2020.

We recognize our role as law enforcement, and our responsibility to address racial inequality within our own community. We acknowledge change is necessary, and we endeavor to enact meaningful reform. An important national conversation has begun about the role of law enforcement. This is an opportunity for us to come together, heal and improve.

WSU Vancouver Police is committed to working with policy makers and community members to reform law enforcement practices. We support conversations about law enforcement that focus on transparency and accountability in investigations, discipline and misconduct, with the goal of ensuring a fair and more equitable criminal justice system.

WSU Vancouver Police recognizes that implicit and institutional bias, and discrimination exist in all aspects of society: criminal justice, education, housing, health care, finance and more. We recognize the hurt, trauma and anger caused by a history in which our profession has often failed to live up to its own ethical ideals.

The WASPC makes the following recommendations in effort to reform and heal. These recommendations are not the only credible options for reform. They are a law enforcement contribution to the larger conversation of improving law enforcement in our state and at WSU Vancouver.

Use of Force:

  • Standardize the use-of-force policies and training centered on the cornerstone principle of the sanctity of human life. De-escalation, proportionality and the use of time, cover and distance.
    • The WSU Vancouver Police Department is partnered with the Clark County Law Enforcement Council participating in a county-wide agreement specifying the use of an independent investigation process for all officer-involved incidents of deadly force use. The Clark County agreement uses a team comprised of investigators from uninvolved law enforcement agencies AND a component of community non-law enforcement members to ensure transparency.
    • WSU Vancouver Police policy was modified in June 2020 to reflect that vascular neck restraint or ANY form of neck hold that intentionally restricts blood flow or breathing shall be considered use of lethal force. It shall not be used to subdue an individual, except as a last resort and then only when an officer has a reasonable belief that their life is in imminent danger.
    • WSU Vancouver police officers receive annual required de-escalation and mental health crisis intervention training. In addition to required training, most WSU Vancouver officers have completed the Building a Community of Equity Professional Development Program; implicit bias training focused on law enforcement; mental health first aid and additional mental health and crisis training; trauma-informed sexual assault investigations training; and first aid training among others.
  • Require all law enforcement officers to intervene and report to their agency whenever another law enforcement officer uses excessive force or knowingly violates the rights of any person. Violation of this duty should be cause for discipline, up to and including termination.
    • This is a long-standing policy and practice for WSU Vancouver Police

Community-oriented Policing:

Community-oriented Policing incorporates three main elements. Community partnerships, organizational transformation and problem solving. The U.S. Department of Justice has provided a detailed Community-oriented Policing definition in the link below.

Community-oriented Policing defined (PDF)

WSU Vancouver Police have never measured success by how many tickets are issued or how many arrests are made. We measure our success by how safe our community feels and by our community’s perception of our department and the work we do.

WSU Vancouver Police employs three full-time police officers, one full-time security officer, a part-time police officer and several community service officers. Each current police and security officer has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience. Think of assignment to campus law enforcement as a “specialty detail.”

A primary department mandate is to maintain a safe and secure environment for students, staff and faculty to work and learn. We are also educators, helpers, generous listeners, rights protectors, problem solvers and community organizers. A campus police officer must have the skills to do all of the normally expected functions of a police officer as well as possess the wisdom and maturity to perform these important campus service duties and responsibilities.

The Community-oriented Policing model emphasizes relationship between law enforcement and community. We hope to partner with all aspects of our campus community, and we are developing a police advisory committee comprised of campus community members to include representation from communities that have experienced the greatest inequities in policing and society to foster greater transparency and learn more about our community’s specific needs to better address them.

We can agree that 2020 has created trying times for all.

Through all of this, please know that the WSU Vancouver Police department supports the conversation for change in law enforcement practices that have harmed Black, Brown, Indigenous, Native American and Asian people, People of Color and historically marginalized populations, and we are actively working to improve ourselves by placing emphasis on understanding diversity in campus culture and demographics, increasing training and practice of crisis mitigation and diffusion, increasing emphasis on positive public contact and rapid response to calls for service1, and contributing to the larger need for nationwide reform.

We continue to serve our community with dedication and respect as a part of that community. WSU Vancouver is our home and our officers care deeply for it and all of its community members.

1 WSU Vancouver Public Safety Strategic Plan