UMass hires former Boston Police Commissioner to conduct review

By Collegian News Staff

Edward Davis

The University of Massachusetts has hired former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis to conduct a review of the University and town’s response to last weekend’s “Blarney Blowout” and similar crowd-related disturbances, according to a UMass press release.

The aim of the review is to develop strategies to prevent similar situations in the future. It will take into account the preparedness of both the campus and the community before the event, as well as how police officers, University officials and town leaders handled the disturbance, both during and immediately afterward. Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy made the decision to retain Davis’ services after consultation with UMass President Robert Caret and Board of Trustees Chair Henry Thomas.

“Commissioner Davis is an outstanding choice for this assignment,” Subbaswamy said in the release. “He is regarded as one of the country’s top law enforcement experts and he will draw upon his longtime success in community policing to help us prevent a recurrence of last week’s disturbing events. This initiative has the support of our community partners in Amherst town government, a cooperative approach vital to solving this difficult problem.”

According to the release, Davis has 36 years of law enforcement experience and served as Boston police commissioner from 2006 until 2013. Last April, he led the Boston Police Department through the marathon bombing investigation and manhunt. Davis’ team that will conduct the review includes four members, among them retired colonel and former head of the Massachusetts State Police Mark Delaney.

Subbaswamy also outlined a number of other initiatives to address unruly student behavior in the release. These include establishing a task force of students, faculty and staff to develop behavior-related policies and change the culture of campus, expanding the UMatter at UMass bystander intervention program, developing better methods of crowd management with the aid of experts in the psychology of crowd behavior and broadening the campus social norms campaign to address student perceptions of troublesome behavior, such as binge drinking.

Subbaswamy said in the release that disciplinary action is being taken against students who violated the University’s Code of Student Conduct during the “Blarney Blowout.” However, he also noted that, “it is important to remember that we currently have the best academically prepared and most accomplished students in our history, and that the overwhelming majority of them find ways to enjoy their UMass Amherst experience responsibly.

“It is also worth noting that the majority of those arrested were not our students.”
According to the release, Davis’ report will be presented to Chancellor Subbaswamy, with additional copies being sent to President Caret and Chairman Thomas.

“We will look at everything to recommend best practices that can be adopted to ensure public safety in way that does not result in civil unrest. I am confident that both the town and the university community will benefit from this review,” Davis said in the release.