Mason to form task force on ‘interactions and experiences’ with University Police

Student and Mason community member testimony will play a central role in an official university task force formed to seek input on “interactions and experiences” with the University Police Department, the Office of the President announced on April 6.

In an e-mail sent to students and other Mason community members, the office said that the task force had been formed so as to “foster a community where respect for all is the hallmark.”

The decision to create the task force came less than one month after university police arrested Mason student Abdirashid Dahir on felony abduction charges following an incident in Fenwick Library. The e-mail about the task force notes that "in addition," the university has hired Tomlinson Strategies, LLC, “an external consulting firm specializing in institutional safety, security assessments and law enforcement issues,” to review the police policies and procedures that led to Dahir’s arrest. 

All charges against Dahir were dropped. Finding’s of Tomlinson Strategies’ review will be made public “at the appropriate time,” according to the e-mail.

Open meetings of the task force will be held on April 12 and April 20, during which “any current Mason student, faculty, or staff [member]” may speak for up to five minutes.

The task force will also accept written statements of up to 1,000 words in length at There is no “e” at the end of the address.

Interested persons can sign up to speak here.

In an interview with Connect2Mason on April 7, President Alan Merten said that the university was not presuming wrongdoing on the part of any party.

“I learned a long time ago that you don’t start an investigation assuming that one side is supplying all the facts,” said Merten.

Referring specifically to Dahir’s case, he remarked that “just because someone says something doesn’t make it true,” and said he was committed to gaining a full perspective on the situation.

“Our approach is that if there is a problem or a potential problem we have to get all the facts,” Merten continued. “There are about 40,000 people in this community. The task force is going to look at the whole area between law enforcement and the university.”

The Office of the President said that the task force’s goal would be to have a final report to President Merten by mid-June, though no announcement has come about when the findings will be made public.



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