Amid the surge of gun violence near Main Campus, Temple University recruited former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey to audit Campus Safety Services’ procedures beginning potentially in two weeks, marking the department’s first external audit in more than a decade.
The audit is being conducted to increase the transparency of Campus Safety Services because they have not had an external audit recently. Once underway, the audit could take several months to complete, said Charles Leone, director of Campus Safety Services.
Ramsey will evaluate Campus Safety Services’ operations – including student and community engagement – and identify areas for potential improvement. Throughout the process, Ramsey may reach out to community stakeholders, including North Central residents, Leone said. More details will be determined in the coming weeks, he added.
“A big key here is to see how we’re using our resources,” Leone said. “Are we using them effectively? And how are we partnering with everyone in the community?”
The audit comes as violence reaches historic levels citywide, with Philadelphia reporting a record 559 homicides in 2021 and 44 homicides already reported in 2022. Samuel Collington, a senior political science major, was fatally shot on Park Avenue near Susquehanna on Nov. 28, 2021.
Ramsey previously co-chaired the 21st Century Task Force on Policing, a task force created by a 2014 executive order by former President Barack Obama to mediate issues between law enforcement and the community. Campus Safety Services considered the task force as the “gold standard” of modern policing when conducting its self-evaluation in October 2020.
Beyond Ramsey’s reputation and career, Leone asked him to conduct the audit after watching him discuss gun violence on various news outlets, including the podcast “Reducing Crime,” which is hosted by Jerry Ratcliffe, a criminal justice professor.
“He understands the importance of including a sense of the community needs, including a sense of working with the community and crime prevention strategies,” Ratcliffe said.
Before becoming Philadelphia’s police commissioner, Ramsey became deputy superintendent in the Chicago Police Department from 1994 until 1998 and served as the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C. from 1998 until 2007, according to the Center for Evidence-Based crime policy.
When Ramsey’s evaluation is complete, Campus Safety Services will post the audit’s results on its website. The department wants Temple Student Government and student media outlets to share the results with the student body to spread awareness of the audit’s findings.
Campus Safety Services did not inform TSG about the audit before announcing it in a university-wide release on Jan. 27. TSG wishes students were involved with formulating the idea for the audit, said Cory Staples, TSG’s director of campus safety.
“What’s the point in changing those things if students aren’t involved because changes might be made that students might not necessarily like, and then that could run into more problems in the future,” said Staples, a junior health professions major.
Despite Staples’ concerns, he is glad the evaluation is happening and hopes Ramsey will involve students’ voices more throughout the auditing process. Leone meets with Staples weekly and wants TSG involved in new campus safety initiatives.
Campus Safety Services is still discussing if it will make external evaluations a regular occurrence, Leone said.
“I’m not opposed to it, so I think it really depends on, as we’ve gone through the process, is it going to be beneficial to do that?” Leone said.
Ratcliffe doesn’t think there are hard guidelines for when Campus Safety Services should conduct external evaluations, but is glad it’s happening as violence increases in the city.