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CPS Moves to Continuing Studies; Also Examines Racial Profiling

November 30, 2004

Northwestern’s Center for Public Safety will become part of the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) effective Jan. 1, 2005.

"This move permits us to solidify our place in the Northwestern community and to capitalize on the significant expertise and experience that SCS brings to the University's programs in continuing and professional education," said Alexander Weiss, director of the center.

The change will provide improved instructional and administrative support for the Center for Public Safety, said Thomas F. Gibbons, dean of Continuing Studies.

“Locating the Center in SCS will enable it to take advantage of the School’s registration, information technology, marketing and other areas of support,” Gibbons said. “The type of training offered by the CPS will be a good fit with the School, so we’re looking forward to having them as part of the School.”

Founded in 1936 as The Traffic Institute, the CPS offers courses in accident investigation, police operations management and transportation engineering.  In addition, the Center does research and provides technical assistance to law enforcement agencies on such topics as racial profiling, DUI and related topics.

“This change will allow the Center for Public Safety to integrate its programs into the School of Continuing Studies, thereby providing an even stronger faculty and curriculum,” said Provost Lawrence B. Dumas. “As part of SCS, the Center will become more involved in Northwestern’s academic community.”

The Center currently offers classes in Chambers Hall, located at 600 Foster St., and at two other locations in Evanston. No immediate changes are planned, although SCS is looking at consolidating teaching locations at some point in the future, Gibbons said.

“Our hope is that for the Center’s students, the change will be transparent,” Gibbons said.

Is Racial Profiling a Factor in Illinois?

The Center for Public Safety also is assisting in a four-year statewide effort to determine whether racial profiling is a factor in traffic stops.

Newly enacted state legislation requires the officers of all law enforcement agencies in Illinois to document each traffic stop, including the race or ethnicity of the vehicle’s driver. The center is analyzing data from more than 1,000 agencies.

“This data collection can be seen as an opportunity for police departments to identify an issue if one exists and address it,” said center director Alexander Weiss.

The data collection began Jan. 1, 2004, and will end Dec. 31, 2007. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) contracted the center to conduct an analysis on the information provided by the agencies. The center also will assist IDOT in preparing a report to be submitted to the governor, the Illinois General Assembly and law enforcement agencies no later than July 1 of each year. (The first report is due July 1, 2005.)

In addition, the center will provide training materials and instruction to law enforcement personnel. Center researchers also will meet periodically with law enforcement agencies and community groups throughout the state to discuss the data and analysis.

Topics: University News