Sac State community has conflicting opinions on campus police, according to ASI survey

Police chief plans meet and greet with community on Nov. 9


Ayaana Williams

In an Associated Students Inc. survey, Sacramento State students and faculty shared mixed opinions on the Sacramento State Police Department and its role on campus. The Sacramento State Police Department is located on the southern edge of campus, between Parking Structure 3 and the Associated Students Inc. Children’s Center. Photo by Kris Hall. Graphic made in Canva by Ayaana Williams.

Kris Hall

The results of a survey sent to the Sacramento State community from Associated Students Inc. President Samantha Elizalde discussing the Sac State Police Department suggests that students are conflicted about the role of police on campus. 

The survey was sent to faculty and students on Aug.10 in response to the June 4 conflict between  Sacramento State Police Department officers and a gathering of cyclists in which video evidence shows a minor was restrained and another cyclist had a stun gun used on him and and was knelt on top of by a Sac State police officer.

RELATED: Sac State campus police officer seen kneeling on a man in video 

The survey was intended to gather student feedback on the events of June 4 as well as general feedback on the SSPD. 

ASI President Samantha Elizalde lists questions in her report on the survey she sent to Sacramento State students, faculty and administration on Aug. 10. Elizalde presented her report on the survey to ASI on Oct. 6 and to Sac State Police Chief Chet Madison on Oct. 15. Screenshot courtesy of ASI.

According to a report presented by ASI President Samantha Elizalde at an ASI meeting on Oct. 6, 236 anonymous Sac State community members completed the survey in its entirety. 

The responses to the survey ranged in the messages they wanted to share, from fear of police to support for campus police.

“I am concerned for my safety because I am a person of color, and where I live is far away from Sacramento, so I worry that if something does happen to me my family will not be notified in time,” said one response from the survey.

Some responses called for the removal of police on campus. Responses to a question asking if there were any thoughts or concerns about the SSPD included that “the police are tone deaf to the events that took place during the summer of 2020,” “they need to do better” and “cops do not belong on campus.”

However, to that same question others surveyed responded that “they were just trying to do their job” and “they’re fulfilling their duties to their best ability which is why I trust them.” 

The survey was given prior to the appointment of Madison to the position of chief of police. One of the questions asked what respondents expected from the then incoming chief. 

RELATED: Sac State Police Chief Chet Madison Jr. responds to anti-racism, police brutality 

Some responses said they wanted to see the police among the students and be visually present on campus. Others asked that Madison would plan to keep students and officers safe.

Some answers were more specific, asking that Madison would “increase communication with students,” including setting up meet-and-greets to introduce himself and staff and stating their goals and answering questions about the department.

One respondent said they would like there to be no chief of police on campus.

“Law enforcement has no place in a learning institution,” the respondent said.

A screenshot from the report presented by Elizalde on Oct. 6 shows the Sac State community’s thoughts on the police department. 43% of respondents shared concern about the police on campus. Screenshot courtesy of ASI.

Elizalde presented the report on the survey results to Madison on Oct. 15 with Executive Vice President Joseph Sais and Director of Education Victor Phang, to which Elizalde says Madison was grateful for the presentation and the work that went into the report and would support further discussion.

“He thanked us for doing the survey, and he seemed very open for further discussions about policing, especially with students and with the overall Sacramento State communities,” Elizalde said. “I saw there was hope for further conversations about what we want to see from policing, whether that is accountability or that is deescalation.”

Phang echoed Elizalde’s thoughts that Madison is open to the Sac State community. 

Chet Madison understands the state of how students and community members feel about police here, and he is willing to listen to new and alternative solutions to create more unity between the work that the police do on campus and the students at large,” Phang said via email.

Elizalde said that a majority of the responses to the survey, though distributed to staff, faculty, administration and students alike, were from students.

“People are impacted by policing on campus and we need staff, faculty, admin, students, all to take part in these conversations,” Elizalde said.

Frances Palu, SSPD administrative manager, provided a statement to The State Hornet from Madison that said he “appreciated ASI’s feedback from the survey” and “looks forward to providing and receiving input from ASI.”

According to a SacSend email from the police department, a meet and greet event will be held on Nov. 9 at 9 a.m. in the University Union’s Hinde Auditorium as well as virtually over Zoom.

“Chief Madison will touch on the results but would like this event to be an open forum for the chief to hear the students’ concerns and create a collaborative dialogue,” Palu said.