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June 02, 2023

Temple University police union calls for resignation of top public safety official after three officers fired

The union believes Jennifer Griffin, the school's vice president for public safety, has failed to protect officers; a Temple spokesperson declined to say why the cops were terminated

Education Public Safety
Temple Police Union Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

The Temple University Police Association is calling for the resignation of Jennifer Griffin, the school's vice president of public safety, after three female police officers were fired within 48 hours.

Temple University's police union is calling for the resignation of Jennifer Griffin, the school's vice president for public safety, after three female officers were fired within 48 hours, union leaders said Thursday. 

In a statement posted to Twitter, Alec Shaffer, president of the Temple University Police Association, and Ross Shaffer, the union's recording secretary, wrote that the union was calling for Griffin's termination because it believes her actions have resulted in a "failure to adequately protect and support both the Temple University community and the police officers serving within it." Griffin, a former Delaware state trooper who was hired last summer, could not be reached for comment.

Temple declined to say why the officers were terminated, noting that they do not provide details on personnel matters. In an emailed statement, a university spokesperson said that Temple has "work rules that all police officers are aware of and must follow. Those rules embody core values of law enforcement and we take violations of these values and rules extremely seriously." 

The union said that the officers' termination has undermined trust within Temple's police force and raised serious concerns about fair treatment and due process. In addition, the union wants the three officers reinstated, saying that it will "utilize any and all means to ensure that justice prevails."

The call for Griffin's resignation marks the latest clash between university officials and the police union, which has long demanded an increase to the size of its police force and requested that university resources be used to recruit and retain officers. These demands come as the university faces an increase in violence near its North Philly campus, including the killing of a police officer in February. 

"In the wake of Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald's murder, it is deeply troubling that Dr. Jennifer Griffin has failed to implement any significant officer safety improvements," union officials said. "Despite the urgent need to address the dangerous conditions our officers face, her actions have remained stagnant, placing the lives of our dedicated law enforcement professionals at increased risk." 

Griffin was hired to be Temple's first vice president for public safety as part of the university's "commitment to further campus safety" amid a rise in violent crime last year. The police union previously criticized Griffin for calling Temple's police officers "university safety officers" in response to two shootings near campus last fall.

In November 2021, 21-year-old student Samuel Collington was fatally shot during a carjacking near campus, which prompted the university to call for increased police patrols.

Following Collington's death, former Temple President Jason Wingard pledged to increase the school's police force by 50%. When Fitzgerald was fatally shot, Griffin told the Inquirer that its police force had actually decreased amid a national police shortage. Wingard resigned earlier this year.

At the beginning of 2022, Temple tapped former Philly police commissioner Charles Ramsey to lead an independent audit of the university's public safety policies. The 131-page audit, released in April, included 68 recommendations for improving the safety of the Temple area. Griffin created a five-pillar plan to address these recommendations.

"The safety of our students is paramount, and it is clear that the current measures in place are failing to address this issue adequately," union officials wrote, adding that they believe Griffin bears "significant responsibility" for the decline in safety and security around Temple's campus.