Public Safety Town Hall

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Friday / April 21, 2017 / 10:00 a.m.
8 Fenway
United States

Given the changing public safety environment on our nation’s campuses, Berklee’s Public Safety team undertook a comprehensive review of our public safety model in 2015. During this review, we relied upon the extensive and diverse experience of existing command staff, analysis of relevant data, consideration of local and national recommended best practices, and close collaboration with Berklee’s diverse community, surrounding neighbors, and municipal and campus law enforcement partners. This review produced many recommendations, including:

  • the formation of a professionally trained and experienced community police department
  • the addition of mobile police units to ensure rapid response to any emergency on campus and to assist any students with medical issues
  • the addition of bicycle patrols to enhance patrol effectiveness and further strengthen bonds within our community, and
  • the addition of campus safety liaisons who work hand-in-glove with our community police department to ensure a welcoming environment for the entire Berklee community, while simultaneously ensuring that we provide adequate protection to our community.

We incorporated those changes into our public safety model over the past year, but have not yet addressed one important recommendation from our review. Our review called for arming our community police, as is the case with virtually all of the colleges and universities in the Boston area; this is also a best practice recommendation of the Massachusetts Department of Education. We are now planning to implement this final recommendation and want to give you an opportunity to ask questions and share your feedback about this change.

Our new model has been in place for over a year now and the result is a new, more highly sophisticated and capable department that focuses on proactive, community-based policing designed to achieve our most fundamental objective—ensuring a safe and secure learning environment for all to value and enjoy. The department's core values of integrity, quality, fairness, diversity, partnership, and compassion reflect the finest tradition of policing. To ensure those values prevail in defining the department’s character and contribution, Berklee Public Safety, like all police agencies, relies upon a combination of mentoring, training, and policies intended to guide officers in the performance of their duties and recruitment of skilled personnel. All of Berklee’s officers are appointed only after extensive background investigation and unanimous approval of a diverse hiring committee comprising representatives from various segments of Berklee’s post-merger community. Constructing a police force that reflects Berklee’s diverse population has been and remains a leading priority. In addition, all members of our police department are academy-trained and state-certified; all have been educated in constitutional law, police patrol procedures, diversity and social issues, and use of force and de-escalation principles, among many other topics, and all have prior campus and/or municipal law enforcement experience. Most officers come to the college from agencies that required them to carry a firearm on duty.  

To date, however, Berklee police officers have not been issued nor have they carried firearms on duty. Berklee is one of only a few colleges in the Boston area that is not currently armed. Given the realities of campus policing in 2017, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and industrywide recommended best practices, and the character, professionalism, training, and experience of Berklee Public Safety officers, the college’s leadership has determined that it is in the best interest of our community that our police officers be armed. This will better enable the department to provide the level of service and protection the Berklee community needs and deserves.  

But regardless of the agency or location, an officer’s firearm is just one tool in a much larger kit intended to enable officers to better meet the great challenge and responsibility of protecting a community. Like all other agencies throughout the country, Public Safety’s most powerful tool continues to be community policing initiatives designed to promote organizational strategies supporting community/law enforcement partnerships and problem-solving techniques without reliance on force. Toward that, Berklee’s officers—who are already very experienced and extensively trained—will receive supplemental training. As part of this commitment to training, Public Safety will

  • Develop a formal continuing training program for our officers, in which all armed department members will receive ongoing training in all areas relevant to the responsibility for carrying firearms on duty—as is the case with any other law enforcement agency—and they will be required to qualify with accuracy and frequency scores exceeding those of even the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee.
  • Provide ongoing training in what it means to be a community police officer, in general and as applied to our community. Berklee is fortunate to have a very diverse community—it’s core to our success—and that has been a very important factor in the development of our training program. We thank our colleagues in Human Resources and Diversity and Inclusion for their assistance in developing specialized training modules to support this effort.

Since we introduced our new public safety model in 2015, we have received very positive feedback about our team and our effectiveness from the Berklee community and from our neighbors. We appreciate the great effort, collaboration, trust, and community that have helped to build our new Public Safety Department, and we look forward to expanding upon this great partnership of shared responsibility for our community’s public safety and quality of life for years to come.  

We have held two town meetings on the Berklee College of Music campus to give the community a chance to hear our plans and ask questions. We will hold two more town meetings on the Boston Conservatory at Berklee campus on:

  • April 21, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. in the Opera Hall at 8 The Fenway, 4th floor.
  • April 26, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. in the Houston Hall at 8 The Fenway, 1st floor.

Please plan to attend one of these meetings if your schedule permits.