HSU University Police Department squad car sits outside Student Business Services building on campus on Sept. 30. | Photo by Collin Slavey

No Confidence in UPD Chief

HSU officers cast an almost unanimous vote of no confidence in police chief

By Collin Slavey and James Wilde

HSU officers cast an almost unanimous vote of no confidence in police chief

The Statewide University Police Association published a press release on Monday stating that officers of the Humboldt State University Police Department submitted an almost unanimous vote of no confidence in Police Chief Donn Peterson.

Nine of the ten officers in the department cast a “no confidence” vote while one abstained. Peterson has allegedly manipulated crime reports, frequently left the office to go out of state, created a hostile discriminatory work environment and violated labor laws.

In a phone interview with Peterson, he said he does not agree with the allegations. However, he enthusiastically supported the association’s examination.

“I have a profound respect for the seriousness of the allegations and the people who made them,” Peterson said. “So I want to respect that.”

Peterson said he wants to be as transparent as possible, but he hopes to continue to be the UPD Chief.

Associated Students President Yadira Cruz said she was surprised when she learned about the vote on Monday.

“I was genuinely shocked,” Cruz said. “Like what the fuck?”

After thinking about it more, Cruz said she wasn’t all that surprised. Cruz said UPD’s problems probably go beyond the chief.

HSU’s Vice President for Administration and Finance Douglas Dawes sent out a campus memo at 4:50 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 30. Dawes said he has high expectations for all employees within UPD and remains committed to helping them be effective.

“Chief Peterson and his team have enhanced outreach to students through the Chief’s Advisory Panel, created the safety escort program, and worked closely with Equity Arcata,” the memo said. “We will thoroughly investigate all of the allegations brought to our attention.”

While the Justice for Josiah movement previously worked closely with UPD, they also inspired the Chief’s Advisory Panel. On Monday the Justice for David Josiah Lawson Facebook page posted a call to action in regards to the news.

“Who is going to protect our students, because it is obvious Humboldt State does not give a damn about their safety?” the post read. “It’s time to start cleaning house President Tom Jackson, get rid of the slackers. Put OUR students first.”

The press release noted that the vote does not automatically oust Peterson. However, UPD Officer Billy Kijsriopas hopes a new chief will take Peterson’s place.

“The damage to morale and the risk to campus safety is too great,” Kijsriopas said in the memo. “It’s past time we had a new chief.”

The full press release from Statewide University Police Association:

Arcata, CA. — According to officials with the Statewide University Police Association (SUPA), its officers at the Humboldt State University Police Department have cast a vote of no confidence in the Department’s police chief, Donn Peterson. Nine of 10 officers who completed the survey voted against the Chief, while the remaining voter abstained.

SUPA conducts annual leadership surveys at each CSU campus. The most recent nearly unanimous vote of no confidence in Police Chief Donn Peterson is in line with previous year’s results. Chief Peterson took the job at HSU after leaving his former post with Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s Department amid scandal. Peterson still regularly spends time out of state with his family in Florida.

According to HSU Officer Billy Kijsriopas, “Chief Peterson’s frequent, extended bouts of time out of state leave the department in the hands of a Lieutenant who also spends an unusual amount of time away from campus. Our officers look to the Chief for guidance and leadership, but he has fallen short of the standards they and the University community deserve.”

According to Officer Kijsriopas, absenteeism is only a fraction of the failure in leadership the Department has seen since Peterson came to HSU in January 2015. Among the Chief’s other offenses, Kijsriopas cites manipulation of crime statistics reporting, creating a hostile work environment including making racial slurs aimed at minority officers, multiple violations of the Public Safety Officer’s Procedural Bill of Rights Act and blatant violations of labor laws that include a derogatory, anti-labor letter which Peterson authored and posted publically [sic].

Says SUPA president Jeff Solomon, “Our members in the Humboldt State University Police Department have consistently reported absenteeism, mismanagement and more in departmental leadership. When you have a department united like this, clearly there is a problem.”

When asked what steps he and other HSU officers would like to see, Kijsriopas replied, “The damage to morale and the risk to campus safety is too great – it’s past time we had a new chief.”

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program