Statement on the Attack Against Tyre Nichols

January 28, 2023

Dear Columbia Community,

Today, on behalf of Public Safety, the Inclusive Public Safety Advisory Committee, and University Life, we write to share our condolences with the family of Tyre Nichols, the broader Memphis community, and all who are directly impacted during a moment of profound grief and outrage. We condemn the actions of the officers involved in the killing of Tyre Nichols. There is no justification for the excessive use of force that occurred. Columbia University’s Department of Public Safety will never tolerate or condone such actions. In the face of these events, Public Safety remains committed to keeping our community safe in ways that uphold our shared humanity.

The violent attacks against Tyre Nichols are an affront to Columbia’s core values of recognizing the dignity and value of every human life. Events like this continue to erode the confidence and trust between law enforcement and community, understandably so. We remain committed to working tirelessly to build and strengthen the relationship with our students, faculty, and staff – which includes acknowledging when law enforcement is in the wrong.

The officers’ actions run counter to the mission of the Columbia University Inclusive Public Safety Advisory Committee, a group of committed students, faculty and staff working to build and strengthen the relationship between Columbia’s Public Safety Department and the larger community. These events cause distress and pain to everyone in our community, including our students, faculty, and staff, as well as to our own Public Safety officers.

At Columbia, we are continually reviewing our policies and practices to ensure that Public Safety officers foster an inclusive and equitable campus community, in alignment with the University's commitment to antiracism. In tandem with the Inclusive Public Safety Advisory Committee, Public Safety remains committed to training and educating our team to ensure that every member of our community is treated with dignity, fairness and humanity. This work requires not only that Columbia is as safe as possible, but also that every member of our community feels safe on our campus.

Your community is a critical source of support during moments of distress; remember to call upon friends, family and loved ones, if needed. And please remember that University resources are also available to you, should you need them.

Resources for Students

Resources for Employees

The University offers resources through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can help support any Columbia employee. The EAP also offers a 24-hour hotline for personal, confidential counseling and referrals to professional services at 1-844-636-1260 (TTY: 711).

For additional questions or concerns, please reach out to [email protected].


Gerald Lewis, Jr. (he/him/his)
Vice President
Columbia Department of Public Safety

Josef Sorett (he/him/his)
Dean, Columbia College
Vice President for Undergraduate Education
Professor of Religion and African American and African Diaspora Studies
Co-Chair, Columbia Inclusive Public Safety Advisory Committee

Melissa D. Begg (she/her/hers)
Dean, Columbia School of Social Work
Professor of Social Work and Biostatistics
Co-Chair, Columbia Inclusive Public Safety Advisory Committee

Dennis A. Mitchell, DDS, MPH (he/him/his)
Executive Vice President for University Life
Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement
Professor of Dental Medicine at CUMC