UMass, Amherst police to continue patrolling some of the same areas

By Marleigh Felsenstein

Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian
Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian

In a mutual agreement, the Amherst Police Department and the UMass Amherst Police Department have decided to continue to control some of the same areas during the spring semester, despite previous constraints on the arrangement.

Amherst Police Chief Scott Livingstone said that a “memorandum of understanding” began in 2007 with the “town and university neighborhoods surrounding the UMass campus.”

However, the joint patrols were subject to a legal snarl in 2012, according to an article in the Recorder, when a UMass police officer followed a speeding vehicle from North Pleasant Street through campus, stopping the driver in downtown Amherst to conduct a field sobriety test. In Judge John Payne, Jr.’s decision, he ruled that there was no legal basis for the officer to stop the driver because he had not observed an arrestable offense.

Based on the ruling, legal counsel for APD and UMPD will help them to tweak the language of their agreement, according to the Recorder, but neither chief is worried that their combined patrols are in peril.The University police have the authority to make vehicle stops and patrol areas surrounding the UMass campus, such as Phillips Ave and areas north of Fearing St, east of Sunset, and west of North Pleasant St.

Deputy Chief of Police Patrick Archbald, said that “one department requests assistance when needed,” and that before the agreement, the two departments “gave a blanket approval without a specific request. There needed to be something more.”

He also said that the two departments have a “good working relationship.” Livingstone agreed, saying that the departments “help each other out” and it is an “excellent agreement.” Livingstone and Horvath meet monthly and  are looking to “expand initiatives.”

The reason that the two police departments have to work together is because of the large student population living in the shared patrol areas. The neighborhoods in those areas have complained about loud parties, foot traffic and drinking,”  Livingstone said.

“A lot more dialogue is happening now more than ever” Archbald said. “The neighbors want more police presence.”

The two departments believe that sharing the problem areas is the best response. Livingstone said that the shared patrol is “going very well. There has been a reduction in noise and general nuisance.” The two departments have historically helped each other out in the Southwest Residential Area on campus during the times that the Red Sox make it to the World Series, or when the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl. UMass students are known to celebrate in Southwest at those times and police must be on hand to make sure that nothing gets out of control.

The two police departments also assist each other at the Mullins Center during times of events.

“I know the two communities are committed to working together,” Archbald said. “It’s a community problem. It takes a community to work on it.”

Marleigh Felsenstein can be reached at [email protected]