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UMass hires former Boston Police Commissioner to conduct review

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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.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “UMass hires former Boston Police Commissioner to conduct review”

  1. Dr. Ed Cutting on March 14th, 2014 4:49 pm

    I hope that he is permitted to (and willing to) look at the underlying issues, some of which I have shared with Trustee Thomas in the past. There is a dehumanization on both sides that has been building and festering for some time, a mutual hatred that has been feeding upon itself, and none of this is going to get any better until that stops.
    .
    There needs to be a review of the entire student judicial process, starting with the very concept that students have no right of appeal — something which even the accreditation panel found to be quite troublesome.
    .
    Much as diversity in law enforcement was found to be essential after the 1968 riots, political and cultural diversity in the Division of Student Affairs needs to be mandated. They need to hire another Gladys Rodriguez, another principled civil libertarian with a no-exceptions attitude toward due process and observing the procedural rights of students. Putting someone like Patricia Cardoso in charge of Student Conduct is sorta like putting someone like Mitt Romney in charge of MassPURG — at best both have talents which would be better used elsewhere. (Cardoso has a bachelor’s in Sociology and a Master’s in Social Justice Education — excellent qualifications to run the Center for Multicultural Advancement & Student Success (CMASS) but not the campus judicial system, a position increasingly held by a member of the bar.
    .
    I would bring back the folk (not just men) who were running the police departments before these troubles started. Former UMPD Chiefs Jack Luippold, Barbara O’Connor and APD Chief Don Moia. Now that they aren’t speaking for a police department they can speak freely and I suspect might have some interesting insights. This stuff didn’t used to happen.
    .
    I’d suggest that they ask themselves what social and developmental needs is this riotous behavior meeting? What types of things did the university used to do that met the need in the years past — professors have spoken of the therapeutic nature of the friday-night bonfire, apparently there used to be one every weekend in the past. If that takes an amendment to the state law, fine — it won’t be the first time that a law has been amended at UM request.
    .
    And above all else, how are the Amherst Police different from when Don Moia was running things? We can start with the fact that they don’t have an outreach program to UM students anymore — that’s how Jack Luippold (a UM student in the ’70;s) wound up becoming a police officer….

    [Reply]

  2. Richard Maximus Strahan on March 19th, 2014 9:58 am

    The coverup on the police brutality at UMass is now officially sanctioned by the governor.

    The real issue here is that the student conduct code must go. It is used by the state employees to make students the scapegoat for their mismanagement of all things at UMass. No one should be expelled because of the Blarney Blast police riot.

    Umass employees insists in treating UMass students as their personal slaves. Servants to be fired at their will.

    Students cannot file any complaints against state employees. But any state employee can use false accusations and the student conduct code to keep students in line to not challenge employee crime and mismanagement.

    I was expelled from UMass as a retaliation for my political activities in Boston and for “threatening” to sue Vallaincourt for violating the Public Records Law,

    Unfortunately the Student Government Association refuses to stand by students and demand no expulsions. Students should conduct their own investigation.

    [Reply]

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