Addressing Culture in the WSU Police Department (Pullman Campus)

I contacted Chief Gary Jenkins to learn more about the precipitating events and response. As you are all probably aware, a few years ago allegations of sexual misconduct were made against a sergeant in the WSU police force. The three command staff at the time conducted an internal investigation. Subsequently, WSU investigated the command staff regarding their handling of the incident and determined that they did not follow protocol and did not implement appropriate discipline. Those three command staff resigned over the summer. WSU asked then Sergeant Dawn Daniels to step in as acting chief and subsequently asked Gary Jenkins, former Pullman police chief, to take the position. Jenkins is now chief; Daniels is assistant chief.

Title IX proceedings against the sergeant regarding the initial sexual misconduct allegations are in process. For the command staff, the repercussions may include more than resignation. When an officer leaves a police force documentation, which includes reasons for termination, is sent to the Criminal Justice Training Commission. The Commission can decide to decertify the officer. Documentation for the three WSU command staff who retired has been submitted

When Jenkins joined the WSU PD, he began by interviewing every staff member. He found that every individual had been unhappy with the way the sexual misconduct case had been handled, and that staff had repeatedly expressed their concerns to command. When their concerns were not addressed, they took the unusual step of jumping the chain of command to report what they viewed as inappropriate handling of the sexual misconduct allegations. Police department staff are seeking to improve the department so that it is a place they can be proud to be a part of.

Efforts include:

  1. Create a culture that encourages staff to bypass the chain of command if they feel their concerns are not being heard such that staff can report (e.g., to Finance and Administration, HRS, Compliance and Civil Rights) without fear of repercussion. Staff stepped forward in this case; the department wants to support that kind of reporting.
  2. Seek accreditation for the WSU PD by the WA Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.
  3. Improve communication within the department. This includes communication in both directions — command staff keeping staff up-to-date and informed, and command receiving and paying attention to suggestions and input from staff.
  4. Improve communication and build relations with the WSU community. For example, the department is working to improve their social media presence in order to communicate more effectively. They are also meeting with various WSU groups, including, most recently, the Graduate and Professional Student Association.

Photo of Faculty Senate Chair Christine HorneChristine Horne
Faculty Senate Chair

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