Public listening sessions announced for KU task force on local policing; town hall to take place Sept. 21

photo by: Sara Shepherd

KU Office of Public Safety patrol vehicle, pictured June 2016.

Three weeks after announcing the creation of a 27-member task force dedicated to reviewing policies on local policing, the University of Kansas on Wednesday announced two public listening sessions and a town hall at which the public can bring concerns to the task force.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all three sessions will take place over Zoom on the following dates:

• Thursday, Sept. 17, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

• Saturday, Sept. 19, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

• Monday, Sept. 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

A campus message from KU Chancellor Douglas Girod’s office said Wednesday that the listening sessions were structured to hear from as many community members as possible while allowing for a reasonable level of confidentiality so participants could “be comfortable sharing thoughts with the task force” on KU’s Public Safety Office, the Lawrence Police Department or other local law enforcement agencies.

When KU announced the creation of the task force, it said that Lawrence Mayor Jennifer Ananda and City Manager Craig Owens would take part in the September listening sessions.

In the first two meetings, the task force will split into three groups, with each group hosting a separate Zoom discussion. Each community member wishing to speak will be heard one at a time without other members of the public present. Those waiting to speak to the task force will be placed in Zoom waiting rooms until it’s their turn, the message said.

Monday’s session will be an open town hall format in which all participants will be in the same Zoom discussion with the full task force. Wednesday’s message said the town hall would be the final session open to the general public.

Information for how to join all three Zoom sessions will be posted on the task force’s website later Wednesday, the message said. Community members will also be able to submit questions, comments and other suggestions or concerns through a confidential form on the site.

“In creating the task force, Chancellor Girod charged the group with reviewing KU Public Safety policies, practices and procedures to ensure that all people are ensured safety, dignity and respect, and freedom from bias, prejudice and racism in their interactions with police,” the message said. “These listening sessions will be crucial to the task force as it fulfills this charge and conducts its important work on behalf of the university.”



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