Amid racial profiling allegations, UPD to be assessed by national firm


SUNY Buffalo State University Police Department will soon undergo an assessment of its policing practices brought about by recent complaints of racial profiling by officers.

Interim President Howard M. Cohen announced at last month’s College Senate meeting that Buffalo State had hired a private firm, Margolis Healy and Associates, LLC, to handle the evaluation.

Margolis Healy is a nationally recognized firm specializing in campus safety, security and regulatory compliance for higher education institutions.

The hiring of Margolis Healy is a response to a number of complaints received by the College Senate over the past 18 months. The claims alleged racial profiling by University Police officers — accusations taken very seriously by UPD, Chief Peter Carey said.

Carey said the department carried out its own internal investigation into the complaints, as did the college’s office of equity and diversity. Both showed no evidence of racial profiling, he said.

“The college and our department are being diligent in our response to these claims,” Carey said.

“I thought it was very important that we get a third-party, professional outside look at how we’re doing,” Cohen said.

Carey added that he is always appreciative of objective external reviews of their performance.

“Our goal is to provide the best possible police service to all members of the campus community, and reviews by external entities such as Margolis Healy and Associates assist us as we work toward that goal,” Carey said. “We look forward to collaborating with Margolis Healy and Associates during their upcoming visit as they evaluate our community policing model, and identify areas of strengths as well as opportunities for development.”

Senator Amy McMillan, associate professor of biology, asked Cohen what process Margolis Healy would use in conducting their assessment. Cohen said he would learn their process when they arrive on campus and that he expects much of it to be negotiable.

Nicole Twohig of Margolis Healy’s public relations department confirmed that while Buffalo State was indeed a client, it is their policy not to provide the media with specifics regarding their procedures for ongoing work with their clients.

Carey said he welcomes any feedback from Margolis Healy, calling it a “perfect opportunity to build and improve upon efforts of the police department.”

While Carey expects them to be thorough and objective, he said it would be inappropriate for him to predict any specific findings.

Margolis Healy will present their report and findings to Cohen, who will then share them with University Police.

“If the findings recommend changes, the department will build on that feedback and seize the opportunity to provide the most professional police services to the Buffalo State community as a result,” Carey said.

Margolis Healy and Associates, LLC was originally expected to come to Buffalo State around March 1.

However, a date has yet to be set for their arrival.

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Twitter: @MikeVProvenzano