University leaders hold virtual forum with community Thursday, Jun 11 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi held a virtual forum with U of L Police Department Chief Gary Lewis and Criminal Justice Department Chair Cherie Dawson-Edwards on June 9 to answer community questions on the relationship between ULPD and the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Lewis began by explaining the current relationship ULPD has with LMPD and how it goes back to the 1970s.

“Following the Kent State incident, many universities felt it important to create and develop their own police force,” Lewis said. “Many may not know, but this organization started with a Louisville Metro retiree.”

Lewis said that when he arrived to U of L two years ago, ULPD had about 98% retired Louisville Metro police officers working for ULPD. “To date, we are at about 40%,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that ULPD is a state accredited police department with less than 50 sworn officers, about 30 security officers and travel escorts.

Bendapudi also explained there is no formal partnership agreement between the two police departments that U of L can divest from.

Dawson-Edwards told students: “We hear you.”

“I realize that people think that training and education as just a reform thing, not a divest, but I want to argue it’s both,” Dawson-Edwards said. “We have to do training and education, and we need to do it better. We need to hold the police accountable, we need to hold ourselves accountable for that education and training.”

Like Bendapudi said in her response to BSU, Dawson-Edwards has committed to doing equity audits for all criminal justice academic programs, including the police executive leadership development certificate.

“I want to make sure that we are infusing equity, inclusion, diversity, social justice, all types of things in our curriculum,” she said. “It is not enough for us to just teach people how to be police and not teach people what they should expect from the community in this society that we’re living in.”

She anticipates the Southern Police Institute, a 60-year old officer training program located and taught at U of L, will do the same. This could include more activities, training and education about these particular issues with current police officers.

During the Q&A portion of the forum, Bendapudi was asked why U of L could not do what the University of Minnesota did in choosing to dissociate from their local police department.

“The reality is that we are an urban campus as you’ve heard,” Bendapudi said. “Our streets and roads, and Louisville’s, are intertwined. So we definitely need to work together–that’s the concurrent and overlapping jurisdictions you’ve heard about.”

Dawson-Edwards further explained that what is coming out of Minnesota is because people have been researching and doing the work to understand the problems for a long time.

“They are primed for it,” Dawson-Edwards said. “They have a 150 year history document on performance review for their police called ‘Enough is Enough.'”

“You can’t just take one city’s or one university’s blueprint and lay it on top of ours without making sure that our stuff matches theirs,” Dawson-Edwards said.

Bendapudi ended the forum by reiterating the actions U of L is taking, including now doing background checks for any officer who works at university events.

“As mother and leader of higher education, who has always cared for her students, I am telling you that we are going to work together on this,” Bendapudi said. “There is so much to learn.  I catch myself all the time when I forget all the privileges I have and you as young people, you’re educating us.”

She then committed to an anti-racist agenda moving forward. Bendapudi said there will be more forums in the future to continue discussion on broad, difficult topics.

“Let’s not forget this moment, this is not performative. This is not just until the news cycle changes. It’s important,” Bendapudi said. “I will do my best and I give you my word. My job is to do the very best I can for you, and that’s what I intend to do.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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President Bendapudi responds to U of L BSU’s letter Monday, Jun 8 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi responded to the Black Student Union’s demands that were released on May 31. In the letter addressed to BSU President Maliya Homer on June 3, Bendapudi addresses the student union’s demands, which included a severance between the U of L Police Department and Louisville Metro Police Department, and for U of L to rename its Overseers Honors House given the word “overseers” tie with slavery.

“I have pledged since I arrived at U of L to do my best always to celebrate diversity, foster equity, and strive for inclusion,” Bendapudi said in the letter. “I want to address each of these issues and explain how I intend to move forward.”

She explained that she spoke with Chief Diversity Officer Faye Jones, Chief of ULPD Gary Lewis and Criminal Justice Department Chair Cherie Dawson-Edwards for their perspectives on the issue of cutting ties with LMPD.

“Your request for us to immediately terminate our relationship with LMPD would not make our campus or its constituents safer, and it would be an insufficient answer to a very complex problem,” Bendapudi said.

Bendapudi said that its difficult to fully cut ties because of overlapping jurisdiction with U of L being in the middle of Louisville.

“We have an intricate relationship with LMPD that touches many parts of our campus and virtually all of our faculty, staff and students,” Bendapudi said. She said that U of L is home to the Southern Police Institute that provides training and courses taught by Criminal Justice faculty for officers.

“This is not to say there are not significant issues within the police force that must be addressed. This is true and they must, but our relationship with LMPD is necessary to the University for these reasons and more,” she said. “I believe the harder approach and the one we will commit to is evolving and molding our partnership with LMPD so it clearly reflects our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, our Cardinal Principle.”

The commitments U of L is taking include: ensuring ULPD is the lead law enforcement agency when dealing with a member of the campus community, performing an equity audit on all criminal justice academic programs, reducing the need for external law enforcement support at athletic events, providing de-escalation and cultural sensitivity training for officers working university events or hired by ULPD, and leveraging the SPI as a catalyst for change.

“To reiterate, this is neither the beginning nor the end of the work we will do,” Bendapudi said. “We are actively assessing our partnerships and working to ensure they reflect the values of our institution and support the success of our students, faculty and staff.”

With regards to the Honors house, Bendapudi said that if U of L is committed to being an equitable anti-racist environment, then the term “overseers” should not be used at U of L.

“I take responsibility for this issue not being addressed earlier,” she said. “This sign has likely caused incalculable and unnecessary pain to many of our students, faculty and staff over the years. I am sorry that it was not addressed sooner, but it is done now.”

The word has been removed from the sign as a temporary fix. A new sign will replace the current one sometime before the start of the fall semester. Bendapudi said she also has a team removing all digital references of the term from U of L owned websites.

Bendapudi also said in her response, that moving forward she will require leaders to include more student representation on all change initiatives.

“Whether it is on the criminal justice academic programs equity audits, the development of officer training programs, or other measures that arise from our ongoing conversations, I will require our leaders to include student representation, particularly the Black Student Union, to ensure the approaches we take are informed by the lived experience of our most fundamental constituency,” Bendapudi said.

BSU Vice President Ni’Kerrion McDonald said that he doesn’t believe these decisions are enough, however.

“Coming out of the meeting with Dr. Bendapudi, the board and I felt as if they had already made up their mind regarding the predetermined ‘list of solutions,'” McDonald said. “We are obviously not satisfied with the outcome of our demands not being met. While the university takes gradual, but persistent action, we will continue to implement our own call to action.”

Maliya Homer, the BSU’s President, released a statement on June 6 informing the community of the actions U of L has taken. Alongside announcing the creation of the Breonna Taylor Memorial Scholarship, Homer called on the Louisville community to direct calls to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office urging him to cut funding from LMPD’s budget of $189 million, as reported in fiscal year 2018-2019.

“We need the community to make it so that a partnership with LMPD is no longer a crucial piece,” Homer said. “The revolution will not stop because the university cannot immediately divest from LMPD,” Homer said. “At the end of the day, the university is a business. Businesses aren’t going to lead the revolution–young people are.”

McDonald said the BSU plans to hold the university accountable to its commitments. “Without follow-through and results, these incremental steps are just not enough,” he said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L’s Black Student Union addresses demands in letter to university officials Tuesday, Jun 2 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

The University of Louisville’s Black Student Union released a statement on May 31 calling for U of L and the University of Louisville Police Department to discontinue its partnership with the Louisville Metro Police Department. This comes after days of protests in Louisville for the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“The relationship between ULPD and LMPD was described as ‘fruitful,’ and while that may be the case in regard to ‘safeguarding the assets of the university’–that is not the case when it comes to students, faculty and staff,” BSU President Maliya Homer said. “Nothing about being in closer proximity to state sanctioned violence makes us any safer.”

ULPD Police Chief Gary Lewis said the relationship between the two departments has gone back as far as the 1970s.

“As the years have gone by, the personnel strength of ULPD has grown which has enhanced the ability to handle all law enforcement related duties on our campuses,” Lewis said.

One of the resources Lewis said the partnership with  LMPD provides is the Real Time Crime Center, or RTCC. “Information gathered can be shared with law enforcement agencies across all of Jefferson County, to include ULPD,” Lewis said.

The student union is also calling for the university to rename the Overseer’s Honor’s House. Homer told the Cardinal she called for the renaming because the word “overseer” was once used as a term to refer to the middleman in plantation hierarchy.

U of L Director of Communications John Karman said the word is being removed from the building’s name.

“The University changed the name of its Board of Overseers last year to the President’s Council for the same reason,” Karman said. “Overseers is being removed from the Honors House name.”

“We’re demanding that the university respond with the same swiftness that they protected the ‘Free Speech Zone’ for people not affiliated with the university to taunt and harass students, staff and faculty for hours on end,” Homer said.

U of L has yet to respond to the BSU’s demands; however, Karman said the university and ULPD are aware of the BSU’s demands and are currently reviewing them.

“We will not settle for a flippant response filled with superfluous excuses and platitudes–we deserve so much more than that. Breonna deserves so much more than that,” Homer said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L President Neeli Bendapudi: “Our Cardinal Family of color needs your help. Our society needs your help.” Monday, Jun 1 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

President Neeli Bendapudi announced in an email on May 29 the actions the University of Louisville plans to take after the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“At the University of Louisville, Diversity and Inclusion is one of our core Cardinal Principles,” Bendapudi said.

“This university strives to be a home and safe haven for our students, faculty and staff of color just as we strive to do this for all of the many rich and diverse identities held throughout our campus community.”

Those actions include updating the Bias Incident Response Team, which is responsible for responding to incidents of racism, microaggressions and bias. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will also update their programming and will reach out to students who need support during this time or want to be educated on racial topics.

Another action the university will take is creating a new education program for faculty and staff that will cover diversity and inclusion. The educational series will be developed by the Department of Education Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development in the College of Education and Human Development, and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Bendapudi also stated the University of Louisville Police Department is committed to keeping campus safe for all students and is involved in discussions surrounding race. “The Department continues to be actively involved in open forums discussing critical racial issues that impact our campus and local community,” Bendapudi said.

U of L has also created a resource page that can be found on the Diversity and Inclusion website. The website provides information on the history of racism and slavery for those interested in learning more about these issues.

Bendapudi concluded the email by acknowledging that these actions are not a solution by themselves but do point to progress the university is making.

“It will take all of us acting collectively with informed intention and empowering care to start to see the change we need, “Bendapudi said.

“I ask each of us to please take an intentional step today to be better and to do more. I need your help. Our Cardinal Family of color needs your help. Our society needs your help.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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ULPD introduces new motorcycle program to increase safety Sunday, Dec 1 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

University of Louisville students can expect to see two University of Louisville Police Department (ULPD) motorcycles around campus from now on. ULPD is testing out a new motorcycle program to enhance campus safety.

“The University of Louisville Police Department has a consistent and proactive goal of innovation and enhancing safety across campus,” said ULPD chief Gary Lewis. “The addition of the Motorcycle Unit will enhance our ability to perform our mission. Motorcycles are cost and energy efficient, display effective mobility techniques, strengthen and builds [sic] upon public and community relations while improving campus coverage response times.”

Harley Davidson is leasing the motorcycles to ULPD for this program. The program’s cost will be $30,000 over the next three years said Lewis. Lewis also said this will be $10,000 cheaper than buying a new Ford SUV police cruiser.

Due to their smaller nature, these motorcycles will be used to monitor high traffic areas. “By their nature, high traffic areas can make it difficult to position a patrol car. Motorcycles, however, can be more effective at these locations due to the ease with which they can be positioned,” said Lewis. “Motorcycles can also assimilate into traffic for enforcement purposes easier than conventional patrol vehicles.”

ULPD also plans on using the motorcycles to cut down response times and provide more surveillance on campus. “The police motorcycle’s surveillance of the area can be overt to maximize the visible deterrent impact or covert to maximize tactical objectives,” said Lewis.

Lewis hopes this operation can be used in conjunction with educational campaigns and public information around campus. “Some agencies have even used these types of events to roll out new shipments of police motorcycles,” said Lewis. “Agencies can advertise the purchase of the motorcycles and associate them with a specific problem, whether it is red light running, speeding, aggressive driving, or some other traffic problem in that agency’s jurisdiction.”

Three ULPD officers trained for this program: Sgt. Oscar Chavez, Don Gosney and Doug Howard. The program has been in effect as of Nov. 11.

Photo Courtesy of ULPD

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Student removed from campus apartments after accidentally discharging firearm Wednesday, Nov 27 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

A University of Louisville student living in the Cardinal Towne apartments accidentally discharged a firearm Nov. 23, sending the bullet through the above room. No one was injured in this situation, but the student who fired the gun has been removed from Cardinal Towne and is facing disciplinary actions.

Executive Vice President and Provost Beth Boehm sent out a letter to students Nov. 26. “The student who discharged the weapon has been removed from campus housing and is facing disciplinary action as defined by the code of student conduct,” said Boehm. “Our housing office reached out to the affected students, offering them the opportunity to move to other housing, and the Dean of Students’ office and ULPD have engaged with the students to provide additional support.”

U of L Dean of Students Michael Mardis addressed the media Nov. 26 and said the gun was immediately seized from the student in question. He also said that the student wasn’t removed from the housing complex until Nov. 25, even though the incident happened two days before.

There was no RAVE alert sent out for this incident on Nov. 23. “As a reminder, U of L issues RAVE alerts when there is an imminent danger to students, faculty and staff,” said Boehm. “Because ULPD and Campus Housing quickly engaged the situation, there was no further threat to other students.”

Boehm also said in the letter that safety is the university’s top priority. She mentioned U of L’s weapon policy which prohibits deadly weapons on any property owned, leased, operated or controlled by U of L. This policy has been in place since 1996.

While both Boehm and Mardis said that the bullet went into the student’s closet, images from the student in the above room show the bullet was inches from her bed.

Boehm urged students, faculty and staff to call ULPD if they see something that concerns them on campus. She also highlighted the Cardinal Principle, being a “community of care.”

“Our safety is in large part determined by the quality of our response and the strength of the ties between us,” she said.

The student who fired the shot isn’t facing criminal charges, but is facing possible expulsion from U of L.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L campus upgrades for the fall Tuesday, Aug 20 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

Incoming and returning students can expect to have a couple new features on campus this fall.

One of those features is the introduction of Card Cruisers from the University of Louisville Police Department. This initiative will transport faculty and students across campus from dusk until dawn. The implementation of these cruisers is to increase safety on campus.

During these hours staff and students can call 852-6111 and they will be directed to an available security officer. The Card Cruisers will give rides anywhere on campus and to nearby apartments off campus.

They will be using existing security cars as the cruisers and have plans to add two more cruisers to the ensemble.

The other new feature students will notice are the upgrades being made to the third floor of Ekstrom Library.

Students can expect an entirely renovated third floor with new study spaces, reading rooms and a graduate student study area. This $3 million upgrade is primarily funded by gifts, endowments and grants.

U of L Libraries Dean Bob Fox said that with the growing population of students a more efficient space was necessary. The upgrades will allow more students to fit on the third floor but it will still remain a quiet space.

Renovations started in May after finals and are estimated to be completed by early September.

File Photo // Louisville Cardinal

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Brief: Road closures are expected during president’s visit Tuesday, Aug 20 2019 

By Maggie Vancampen —

Road closures around both campuses are scheduled as President Donald Trump is visiting Louisville Aug. 21.

University of Louisville Police Department sent the email Aug. 20.

The email said, “Trump is expected to travel from Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport to downtown between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. and return to the airport between 5:30 and 6 p.m. While the specific route is not being released, expect I-65 and any roads in that vicinity to be closed during those times.”

Some of the streets that may be effected around the Belknap campus include Eastern Parkway, University Boulevard, Cardinal Boulevard/Brandeis, Crittenden Drive and Floyd Street.

Health Science Campus streets possibly affected could be Liberty, Muhammad Ali, Chestnut, Floyd, Brook, Preston and Broadway.

The email also said that TARC routes might be effected too.

File Photo / Louisville Cardinal

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