Fifteen-point action plan recommends changes to police operations

George Mason University released a 15-step plan on Oct. 4 outlining action the university plans to pursue regarding changes in Mason police force operations and ensuring the safety and well-being of those on campus. The plan is a result of recommendations and findings made this summer following the Fenwick Library incident in spring 2011 and the creation of a taskforce to examine police and community interactions and experiences.

The three-page Action Plan for Police and Community identifies areas of change the university will pursue in the upcoming months based on two reports. The first report is the final report from the Presidential Task Force created in March, which operated open meetings and reviewed written statements on the “interactions and experiences” community members have had with Mason’s police force. The second report came from an independent consultant and was a “due diligence review” of the March 8 incident when two students argument over a library study room, which resulted in felony abduction charges that were later dropped.

New methods of assessment are outlined in the 15-step plan, including the intent to create a university advisory council, assessment survey and formal process for complaints consistent with “national campus standards.” The plan also recommends a review of “all existing GMUPD policies, practices, guidelines, websites and other informational materials” for clarity and transparency, as well as additional police training in “arrest” protocols.

“The Task Force report has provided us with invaluable insight into areas of disconnect between the actions of University Police and the expectations of the Mason community.  We can make the changes necessary to advance a stronger community policing model and an action plan of improvement immediately,” said Mason Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens in a press release.

The decision to create the task force this spring came less than one month after university police arrested Mason student Abdirashid Dahir on felony abduction charges following an incident in Fenwick Library. All charges against Dahir were later dropped, but news of the incident and a CNN iReport piece sparked heated response in the Mason community.

The consultant’s report also used in the creation of the Action Plan states that the actions by University Police during the March 8 incident were within “lawful and discretionary bounds.”  It cites blame for all parties involved, adding that the incident was “unfortunate at many levels,” placing two students in “conflict” and causing “friction” on campus that put University Police on the “defensive.”

The library is also creating an electronic reservation system for study spaces to be implemented later this fall.

Connect2Mason is reviewing the documents and will continue to report on its findings. The documents are available below for download.


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