Temple University leaders Sunday night pledged to arrange meetings with city police to discuss student concerns about police behavior during the recent protests, including an incident in which a high-ranking officer beat a student with a baton.
But the university said it would not sever ties with the city Police Department as leaders of the university’s student government requested last week.
“Our campus community after the past week does not feel like the Philadelphia Police Department is there to serve them and make them feel safe,” Quinn Litsinger, 20, a rising junior and president of Temple’s Student Government Association, said in an interview last week.
Temple officials, however, said in a campus statement that they didn’t think cutting ties with city police would be in the best interest of the students, faculty, staff, and neighbors in the surrounding community.
“Shared responsibilities and patrols among the Temple Police Department, our Allied Universal security partners, and the Philadelphia Police Department help keep us safe by providing effective layers of service and protection for the Temple community and residents in nearby neighborhoods,” said Temple president Richard M. Englert; Provost JoAnne A. Epps; and Kevin G. Clark, executive vice president.
The relationship with the city allows Temple police access to the city’s computer-aided dispatch system (911), “which enables a more efficient response to emergency calls,” they said.
But the leaders said they were “extremely disturbed by the violent treatment" of Temple engineering student Evan Gorski by a Philadelphia police official during an off-campus protest last week.
Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna Jr. faces felony aggravated assault charges and has been removed from street duty. A video that surfaced shows Bologna striking Gorski sharply on or near his head and tackling him, while another officer presses Gorski’s face to the pavement by placing his knee on the back of his head and neck.
“We have reached out to the student and will continue to support him throughout this process," the Temple officials said.
They also said they would seek to organize meetings among the city police, Temple police, and student leaders to discuss student concerns. The university invited anyone with complaints about police to contact the university’s ethics and compliance helpline online or at 844-755-3394.
Temple’s student government had asked the university to sever all non-essential ties with city police and cease corporate sponsorship of the Philadelphia Police Foundation.
Litsinger, a political science major from Cherry Hill, said students have become increasingly concerned about the behavior of police during the protests. He said he knows several students who were shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed during the protests.
“It’s been really disgusting to watch,” he said.