NIU police chief discusses accountability, transparency


Northern Star File Photo

SGA Senate Clerk Breanna Villeda (left) and Speaker of the Senate Dallas Douglass listen to speakers at SGA Senate meeting.

By Elisa Reamer, News Editor

DeKALB – Darren Mitchell, acting NIU police chief, spoke about how police need to gain public trust, be accountable and more transparent at the Student Government Association Senate meeting on Sunday. 

Building trust between the police and the community is important because of the events that have happened in the past years, such as the killing of George Floyd, Mitchell said. 

“I’m responsible for 10,000 students, about 4,000 faculty and staff and about $3 billion worth of property on this campus,” Mitchell said. “But because our students live on campus, we work very closely with the City Council in order to make sure that we are addressing their needs and keeping them protected.”

Mitchell has been dealing with public safety concerns and issues on campus for the past five months since becoming chief. 

Public safety is a community shared responsibility, and people have to work together to take care of the community, Mitchell said. 

“We work hard in order to identify individuals who are coming here to cause harm or present difficulties to our campus community, and we’re working to make sure that we mitigate those folks and prevent them from harming our students,” Mitchell said. 

Mitchell recommended that all students download the NIU Safe app because of how important all of the technological advances are that the app provides by allowing direct connection with the NIU Police Department. 

The NIU Safe app has a chat option where students can report anonymously to the police or ask a question directly to a police dispatch. This option is for non-emergency situations, and Mitchell recommended everyone call 911 for emergencies.  

Students can mark their destination, and if they give permission, the NIU police can track their location to make sure the student gets there safely. If the student does not make it to the location, steps will be taken, Mitchell said. 

The job as police chief is a 24/7 one, and Mitchell said his door is always open for anyone to talk about their concerns. 

SGA appoints new cabinet members

Senators confirmed students for new positions, including  deputy treasurer, senator-at-large, chair of university services oversight and sergeant-at-arms. 

Honor Morgan, junior pre-law political science major, was unanimously approved as deputy treasurer. 

Morgan said she wants to get involved with SGA to better the NIU community. She currently is a treasurer for her sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma until November. 

“I’ve always been interested in finances,” Morgan said. “I really loved my position as a treasurer, and I wanted to continue that work. I feel like I’ve had a lot of experience, and I’ve built a lot of relationships in the DeKalb community as well.”

James McCue, senior finance major, was unanimously approved as a new senator-at-large. 

“I believe by improving efficient communication between faculty and students, we can increase the engagement in organizations, beyond just new membership,” McCue said. “I began developing an initiative with the Office of Financial Literacy, creating tools for students of all colleges to properly build the future for themselves.”

McCue has been a student since 2015, so he has gathered all of the different perspectives of his friends throughout his time on campus, McCue said. 

“He seems to have the knowledge base,” Speaker of the Senate Dallas Douglass said. “I think having been on campus for six years is definitely an asset. He has been involved in multiple departments and organizations and will offer a perspective on the Senate.” 

Green was unanimously approved to be the chair of university services oversight.

“I’m very open about the fact that I’m queer and trans, and being on the ground like, that I know the areas where NIU really shines where it falls short,” Green said. “I have my own experiences, and I also have the experiences of my friends to go off of and the fellow students that I work with. As chair of this committee, I would like to help NIU realize its full potential.”

Clayton Schopfer, senior political science and Spanish major, was unanimously approved to be the sergeant-at-arms. He was an interim sergeant-at-arms last spring semester. 

Schopfer said this position entails making sure that all rules are being followed during meetings. If people speak out of order, are being disrespectful, or use their devices inappropriately, he has to deal with it. 

“I have already had leadership positions, I’m currently serving in leadership, and I believe I have a very good working relationship with both the speaker and deputy speaker,” Schopfer said. “I believe I am fully prepared to preserve order and decorum.”