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Michigan State police department dedicates unit to protect and defend — against bias

Michigan State University’s police department has launched an “Inclusion and Anti-Bias Unit” that not only hosts bias trainings, but also polices campus bias complaints.

The Inclusion and Anti-Bias Unit was rolled out in February and, four months later, has seen a successful debut, said Jason Cody, spokesman for Michigan State University, in an email to The College Fix.

“In my opinion the unit has been well received on campus by students, faculty and staff,” he said. “Since its inception, the unit has trained more than 230 police officers on bias, as well as trained dozens of students on what to do if stopped or contacted by police.”

What’s more, he said the police officer manning the unit works with a campus task force that “meets each week to review reported bias cases and to determine which office will handle.”

A bias incident is defined by the university as “an incident of verbal or non-verbal conduct that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory or hostile and is based on a category protected under the MSU Anti-Discrimination Policy,” its website states.

According to the university’s website, the unit is led by Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor, a 26-veteran of the police force, who earned about $76,000 during the 2014-15 fiscal year, public records show.

MORE: University forms ‘first responder … Bias Response Team’

“If it is something that rises to the level of a crime per Michigan law, that would be police,” Cody said of how the officer and the task force handles bias complaints. “It could be something that occurs in the dorms and our residence hall division will look into it. Or if there is a Title IX component, our Title IX office may look into it. It all depends on the report.”

But the unit is largely focused on training and outreach, he said.

“There also was a campus-wide conference on racial healing they played a large role in,” Cody said in his email. “Other training sessions include with the LGBTQ community, Veterans Affairs, Office of Disabilities, etc. Surrounding police departments also have reached out for training.”

The unit, when first announced, was billed as “one of the first of its kind for a university police force, will work in collaboration with all members of the university community to provide internal and external training to raise awareness and help create an inclusive culture on the MSU campus.”

“Our goal is two-fold,” Police Chief Jim Dunlap also stated in announcing the unit. “The new unit will provide information to help everyone at MSU better understand the role, responsibilities and actions of police officers. And just as important, members of the unit will work across the department and the university as a whole to ensure our officers can better understand and relate to our community.”

MORE: U.Oregon rejects criticism its Bias Response Team is Thought Police

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About the Author
Michael McGrady --University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.